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Karl Ravech Excited, Nervous To Call KBO Games

“In terms of the quality of play, Ravech says the KBO is not on par with the top league in Japan. By comparison to the American game, Ravech puts the talent in the KBO somewhere between Double-A and Triple-A.”

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“We’re going into this the same way if you’re an English major going into a math exam,” ESPN’s most prominent MLB talking head says when it comes to covering Korean Baseball. Karl Ravech sat down with Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports this week to discuss the challenge of calling games from halfway around the world in the middle of the night.

His hope is that MLB fans take to the Korea Baseball Organization the way they have historically taken to the Little League and College World Series. Fans start out curious and by the end are well-educated.

“By the end of it, you understand who the best players are. You can talk about the best pitchers from Vanderbilt and the best infielders from LSU that literally, three weeks prior to that, the majority of people couldn’t talk about. I’m assuming and hoping that’s what happens here.”

McCarthy asked Ravech what he expects from the atmosphere. One of the KBO’s hallmarks has been the enthusiastic environment around games. Players routinely flip their bats regardless of the outcome of their plate appearances. Cheerleaders dance on top of dugouts.

Can such an environment break through with an American audience if there are no fans in the stands to create the excitement those elements usually would?

“Probably the most unique aspect of Korean baseball is actually the fans. It doesn’t matter if you’re up by six or down by 10. They will do their ritual. They will dance and they will sing. They don’t pay much attention to the scoreboard and let that dictate their energy and enthusiasm. We’ll miss that part of it.”

In terms of the quality of play, Ravech says the KBO is not on par with the top league in Japan. By comparison to the American game, Ravech puts the talent in the KBO somewhere between Double-A and Triple-A.

Baseball’s most outspoken American fans are notoriously stodgy about the game’s “unwritten rules.” Any time a player flips a bat after a big home run, you can log onto social media and see the fun police out in full force demanding that player be drilled in the head in his next at bat for daring to smile.

Ravech says those kind of fans may not like all of the bat flipping they see in the KBO, but it will definitely create conversation about the league and its games.

“Whether it originated in Korea, let’s just say they’ve mastered it. There is a high finish. And the bat never comes back down until it lands on the ground after it’s been thrown. They’re into that very high finish. Bat leaves the hand when they believe they hit a home run. That’s all over YouTube and everywhere else – and it will be part of our telecast tonight. Yes, you’re 100% right to suggest that bat flips are something people will absolutely be talking about.”

On Monday, ESPN announced a deal that would see six KBO games air on ESPN2 every week. Games will be carried in the overnight hours every Tuesday through Sunday with ESPN’s top name baseball talent calling the action from their home studios.

Sports TV News

The NFL Still Considering Multiple Offers For Sunday Ticket

The NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has not bid for the package but has stated it is willing to partner with the new rightsholder for a potential deal.

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Sunday Ticket Negotiations

DirecTV currently has the rights to Sunday Ticket. That deal expires at the end of this upcoming football season. The NFL is expected to make a boatload of cash when they decide which media organization gets the next rights to the package. The only question is… who will that be?

Alex Sherman of CNBC reports that the NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has decided not bid for the package. However, they are interested in partnering with the new rightsholder for a potential deal. DirecTV knows that Sunday Ticket is a staple in bars and restaurants and is interested in maintaining those relationships.

Outside of the bar/restaurant industry, success has been limited for the satellite provider with the football package. Fewer than two million subscribers signed up for Sunday Ticket each year which made the package a money-loser for the satellite TV provider.

According to the report, the NFL wants more than $2 billion for the rights and a stake in NFL Media, which is being packaged with Sunday Ticket. Also on the table is the NFL’s mobile rights. The league’s previous mobile agreement with Verizon has ended.

An interesting piece of the negotiations is Sunday Ticket price. According to the report, a buyer would have limited flexibility on pricing. The NFL signed contracts with CBS and Fox and within the framework of those deals, language mandates Sunday Ticket have a premium price. That’s to prevent loss of viewers from the networks that feature local market Sunday afternoon games. So essentially, the price is the price for the consumer.

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F1 Renews With ESPN For U.S. Media Rights

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

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F1 ESPN

The racing series F1 has decided to stick with ESPN through 2025.

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

The reported value of the three-year contract is set to pay F1 $75-90M per year for the U.S. media rights. Amazon had offered to pay roughly $100M per year, with the right to sublicense to a linear broadcast network. Comcast’s offer was similar to ESPN’s in terms of value and the structure. They also wanted to put select races on it’s streaming service, Peacock.

Netflix was in on the negotiations, as well. The makers of Drive to Survive, the streaming series that many credit with the sport’s explosion in popularity in recent years, wasn’t close on on their financial offer. Also, it seems F1 executives were not ready to put all of its races on a streaming service just yet.

Currently, F1 receives $5M per year for ESPN to broadcast it’s races. ESPN has grabbed about 1.0 million viewers per race. That makes F1 a more than viable option for the network to invest into again. ESPN will be able to put a small number of races on its ESPN+ streaming service exclusively. The vast majority being on ABC or ESPN.

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Skip Bayless Says He And Stephen A. Smith ‘Sorted Out’ Their Disagreement

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

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Skip Bayless

Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless were locked in a war of words last week following the First Take host’s appearance on JJ Redick’s Old Man and the Three podcast.

The origins of their partnership were discussed and Bayless admitted he did not like the way Smith characterized the state of First Take before he arrived on set. Smith insisted that Bayless simply misunderstood what he meant by saying that he was told the show needed him.

Over the weekend, Skip Bayless says he and Stephen A. Smith got together at the Bayless home in California to talk things out in private.

“He was in LA, he came over, we sat by the pool,” he said on the latest episode of The Skip Bayless Show. “It wasn’t the easiest conversation for a while, but we slowly but surely sorted it out. We got through it, and we have been through so much together.”

Bayless reiterated that he considers Smith a brother. They love each other. That doesn’t mean they are always going to remember events the same way or see eye-to-eye all the time.

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

Fighting doesn’t mean the relationship is fractured. In fact, Skip Bayless was adamant that he remains closer to Smith than he is to most people in his life.

“I don’t trust easily because of the way I was raised, but I do trust Stephen Anthony Smith. Trust him with my life. Always have and always will. I trust he will always be there for me, and you better believe I will always be there for him.”

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