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ESPN+ To Offer RedZone-Like Coverage For MLB Playoffs

“With the two League Championship Series going to FOX and TBS respectively, allowing ESPN to present a digital product that features action from every game seems like the best “extra” the league could offer.”

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There is going to be a lot of baseball on your TV on Wednesday and Thursday. ESPN will leverage its relationship with Major League Baseball and take advantage of all that content with a new show for ESPN+ called Squeeze Play.

Squeeze Play is the Major League Baseball postseason’s answer to the NFL RedZone channel. Jason Benetti, Kyle Peterson and Mike Petriello will serve as hosts for a whip around style show covering all eight games on Wednesday. They will do it all again on Thursday.

The trio of hosts will be connected via video conference. Benetti joked that he would stay comfortable in his home with six screens, his fridge steps away and a strategically placed pizza order.

“Normally I do deep dish, but I’m thinking I might do thin crust because of the heft of the pizza over a nine-hour day,” he told Phil Rosenthall during an interview for the Chicago Tribune. “A food coma is not ideal while doing television.”

Whip-around coverage is nothing new in the sports world. The aforementioned RedZone channel is a staple of Sunday NFL viewing. Before bringing the Turner networks into the fold, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament was routinely presented with whip-around coverage anchored from a studio in New York.

This won’t even be the first time Major League Baseball takes advantage of whip-around coverage. The status of MLB Change Up is up in the air over at DAZN. The streaming service signed a deal for “near live rights” over the next three years with MLB in 2019, but the show was shelved for 2020 when the two sides could not agree on a price for rights for a shortened 2020 season.

With the playoffs expanding this season, Major League Baseball had a lot more inventory to offer its media partners. With the two League Championship Series going to FOX and TBS respectively, allowing ESPN to present a digital product that features action from every game seems like the best “extra” the league could offer.

Sports TV News

Jimmy Pitaro: Reaching Younger Audience A Priority for ESPN

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience. As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

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Many in the media industry have voice concern that millennials and Gen Z aren’t consuming traditional media outlets like previous generations. ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said it’s a priority for the network.

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience,” Pitaro said, quoted by Morning Consult sports business reporter Mark J. Burns. “As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

Pitaro made the comments at Sports Business Journal’s Media Innovators conference Wednesday. It is a continuation of comments he has made in recent years.

In 2018, Pitaro said at ESPN’s upfront “I think we are doing a fantastic job serving the sports fanatic,” said Pitaro. “What about the casual sports customer? Are we doing all we can to serve him or her?”.

In 2019, Pitaro said it was “all hands on deck” to reach a younger audience and women. “We have to be open and go to where our customers are,” he said in regards to reaching younger viewers on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Earlier this year, Pitaro added that ESPN won’t be leaving linear television anytime soon.

“What I will tell you is that as I sit here right now, that business is still incredible,” Pitaro said. “We serve the sports fan anyway and at any time. I know there are a lot of people that still want ESPN in that traditional ecosystem.”

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Sports TV News

Don Mattingly Joining Blue Jays Staff After YES Network Courtship

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

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The New York Yankees regional sports network can take Don Mattingly off its talent wish list. Mattingly was announced Wednesday as a bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays starting in 2023.

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

But Mattingly told Andrew Marchand of The New York Post this week that he had another opportunity in the works but wouldn’t elaborate.

YES also has been considering luring Yankees legend and Hall of Famer Derek Jeter into broadcasting. But no formal talks have taken place.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Paying Nearly $45 Billion For Rights Fees Through 2027

Currently, the network’s largest spending comes for its Monday Night Football package, which is $2.6 billion annually

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The last year or two has been evident that the price of rights to airing major college and professional sporting events on television are only going up. But the various networks either with longstanding relationships with leagues and conferences or looking to break into the media rights landscape are willing to pay up. That’s no more evident with Disney, which will be shelling out tens of billions of dollars to have regular season and postseason events air on ESPN.

According to Sportico, which reviewed Disney’s annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, ESPN is set to spend $44.9 billion on sports media rights through 2027.

Currently, the network’s largest spending comes for its Monday Night Football package, which is $2.6 billion annually. Additionally, ESPN will pay $1.4 billion through the 2024-25 season for NBA rights.

The Sportico report noted ESPN will generate more than $8.1 billion in affiliate revenue to help offset those costs. The network will soon be entering talks to renew its media rights deal to be the exclusive home for nearly all NCAA Division I championships, as well as engaging in new NBA rights negotiations.

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