On Wednesday, AllCity Network, a start-up digital sports media company that had initially focused on building livestreaming programming in a handful of local markets, announced a slate of national shows featuring some household names.
The NBA program will be led by an ESPN analyst Tim Legler. The NFL Draft will spotlight the NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger. But the NHL show, featuring some friends from Boston who in the past took their jobs seriously but not themselves seriously, is the most intriguing.
With the title “What chaos!” the show is presented by Piet Zwartbrand And DJ Boon. New episodes, typically 45 minutes to an hour long, stream on YouTube from their set in Somerville Monday through Thursday each week, and are also available in podcast form. Their first episode debuted as the #2 hockey podcast on Apple Podcasts, behind only Barstool’s hugely popular ‘Spittin’ Chiclets.
A Waltham native with more than 137,000 followers on X/Twitter, Blackburn was one of the first hockey media personalities to understand and maximize the power of social media. Bean’s social media following is smaller (he has 28,800 X/Twitter followers), but the Belmont native is well-known in the Boston market from his days at WEEI.com and NBC Sports Boston.
Blackburn and Bean, who initially became close friends over social media more than a decade ago, share similar sensibilities. They appreciate the quirky angles, have an in-depth knowledge of pop culture and look for the humorous side in almost everything.
They’ve worked together before, first on WEEI’s weekend hockey program, and then on the popular ongoing podcast “Listen To Brunch,” which features conversations about music, movies and anything else that comes to mind at any given moment.
But this opportunity – the chance to do a hockey show the way they want, with an emphasis on humor and personalities – is one they’ve been talking about for a long time.
“I want to do something that’s more indicative of who I am, on Twitter and in real life,” Blackburn said. “The more traditional media stuff I’ve done is great, but I think this is more my speed and gives me and DJ a chance to spread our wings and be weird and have the best time with it.”
Said Bean: “It’s a show that Pete and I have been planning for a long time, just given: A) that we love hockey and each other and all that, and B) wanted to dispel the idea that hockey players don’t have much personality. “
The first episode, with the captain of Bruins Brad Marchand, delivers results in terms of humor and personality. Marchand was completely wild, which won’t surprise his local fans but may baffle fans in other markets who see him as some kind of dirty, rotten hockey villain.
“In the first interview with Marchand we just came out of the gate with short jokes. He plays along. A lot of these people will play,” Bean said. “As we talk to teams, we send along things we’ve done and say, ‘Tell us. Who’s going to hang around with us?’ They have guys who they know are funny and have all these other interests, and we can help show who they really are.
Last week, Blackburn and Bean were in Chicago to talk to rookie sensation Connor Bedard, Blackhawks, among others. Their mission soon became clear.
“We showed (former Bruin and current Blackhawk) Nick Foligno a fragment of Marchand, and he said: ‘Yes, do it That.’ He told us we wouldn’t be able to make Connor Bedard laugh,” Bean said. “When we interviewed him, all we could think was, ‘This episode is about making Connor Bedard laugh.
“Spoiler alert,” Bean added with a straight face. “We did. The hardest thing we’ve ever done in our lives.”
World Series games on Fox averaged 9.1 million viewers, making the Rangers’ five-game win over the Diamondbacks the lowest-rated Fall Classic ever. The previous low was the 2020 Series between the Dodgers and Rays during the COVID-19 pandemic, which averaged 9.8 million viewers. The low final numbers were no surprise, as Game 3 was the least-watched World Series game ever. . . The most interesting baseball rating in recent weeks is this: NESN’s Red Sox broadcasts finished this season with a local rating of 2.67, the same rating as in 2022. . . In the final proof that Chris Curtis’s mouth functions much faster than his brain synapses, the WEEI producer and morning show personality “joked” during Monday’s show that he “wanted a skate around his neck” after seeing MacJones’s interception against the Dolphins on Sunday. The comment itself wasn’t funny, but it was even worse right after a conversation about the death of a hockey player Adam Johnson, which had been cut by an opponent’s skating blade. Unfunny and tasteless is a pathetic brand.
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