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Ben Verlander: Twitch Helped Me Land FOX Sports Gig

I started doing it and immediately loved it and started building this community of people that clearly cares about me, about what I have to say, and it just becomes this community of people.”

Ricky Keeler

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In the media industry, sometimes you just never know where your big break is going to come from. For current FOX Sports MLB analyst Ben Verlander, it was Twitch that helped him gain his big break in the business. 

Verlander, who is the younger brother of Astros pitcher Justin Verlander, played in the Detroit Tigers organization for four years (2014-2017). While in the minor leagues, his love of playing video games would eventually lead to helping him in a future career. 

This week, Verlander was on the Straight Fire with Jason McIntyre podcast and told the story of how playing MLB The Show led to the career he has right now.

“When I played baseball, we played 140 games in 150 days. The only way you get through it is a schedule. I’m at the field from noon-11 PM, midnight. You can’t just go home after playing a 9-inning game and go to sleep. What I would find myself doing is going home, sitting on my couch, playing video games for a couple of hours before I went to bed, so I got really good at The Show.”

Ben Verlander says that he was better at baseball video games than he was at actual baseball. As the Covid-19 pandemic began in the US, and it became clear there would be no minor league season, a roommate suggested Verlander put his gaming on Twitch.

“I started doing it and immediately loved it and started building this community of people that clearly cares about me, about what I have to say, and it just becomes this community of people. Still to this day, I try to stream every weekday. I truly believe being on Twitch helped me,” replied Verlander. 

Being on Twitch led to Verlander eventually getting a chance to meet the Vice President of Digital Content for FOX, Michael Bucklin. That meeting led to a World Series party that Verlander hosted.

“I’m on a camera, I have 20,50,100,500 people watching me, asking questions. I’m talking back to them. I’m entertaining them and I truly believed that helped me,” said Verlander about Twitch helping him get to where he is today. 

This past week, Verlander was in Colorado for the MLB All-Star Game and he even got to interview Shohei Ohtani.

Verlander’s path to go from minor league baseball to now working as an analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the Flippin’ Bats podcast shows you never know where your big break is going to come from. Even streaming yourself playing video games can lead to something great.

Sports TV News

NFL Thanksgiving Games Set Ratings Records

FOX Sports added that viewership was up 49% compared to 2021.

Jordan Bondurant

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The Thanksgiving slate of NFL games last week brought in the largest audiences ever. Viewership across all three games averaged 33.5 million.

The game with the largest viewership was Giants/Cowboys in the 4:30 p.m. window. FOX Sports reported that 42 million watched Dallas beat New York 28-20. It is the largest regular season audience ever, surpassing the previous leader set 32 years ago.

The network added that viewership was up 49% compared to 2021. FOX carried the Detroit Lions traditional noon Thanksgiving game last year. Compared to the Cowboys turkey day contest on CBS in 2021, viewership was up 3%.

The Bills/Lions game in the early window on CBS averaged 31.627 million, with the audience peaking at 41.981 million. It was the most-watched early Thanksgiving game on record.

Patriots/Vikings on NBC in the nightcap averaged 25.9 million. That figure was up 24% compared to Bills/Saints a year ago, with NBC Sports claiming it’s the second most-watched primetime Thanksgiving game on record. The game was simulcast in Spanish on Telemundo, which averaged 565,000 viewers and made it the most-watched NFL game ever on the network.

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Sports TV News

DirecTV Accuses FOX Sports Of ‘Scare Tactics’ As Contract Expiration Looms

FOX CEO Lachlan Murdoch indicated that this is just the first of a string of current negotiations that are upcoming.

Jordan Bondurant

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Cable and satellite TV subscribers should by now be accustomed to threats of seeing some channels disappear from their lineup due to contract disputes. The warnings by FOX Sports to viewers on DirecTV are no different, but the nation’s largest satellite provider isn’t appreciative of efforts by the network to make viewers aware.

FOX is currently coming up on the end of its current contract with DirecTV. With no new agreement between the two sides in place right now, FOX network, FS1, FS2, Big Ten Network and FOX-owned local affiliates will be blacked out to viewers at 3 a.m. on December 2.

As is customary with these sorts of situations, FOX has instituted a crawl on the above networks making viewers aware that they could soon see the channels gone and encouraging them to tell DirecTV not to let these channels go.

For sports fans, blackouts could be massively disruptive for football fans and soccer fans. The World Cup is currently airing on FOX and FS1,while the NFL and college football also occupy time on those same channels.

Still, DirecTV has accused FOX of utilizing the crawl to use “the same old, tired programmer scare tactics,” according to a statement to Deadline.

Earlier in the fall, ESPN and Dish were in a similar situation. The negotiation deadline passed, and viewers, college football fans in particular, were unable to catch any games on TV for a day.

FOX CEO Lachlan Murdoch indicated that this is just the first of a string of current negotiations that are upcoming.

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Sports TV News

FOX Doubles Ad Price For Premiere US World Cup Matches

FOX has capitalized by charging $600,000 per 30-second commercial during its coverage of USA/England.

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The 2022 World Cup is underway and the opener received a gigantic ratings increase for FOX Sports. Now, according to a report from Front Office Sports, the network has doubled its ad price for the USA match versus England.

USA/England will air in a lucrative window, at 2:00 PM ET on Black Friday, and FOX has capitalized by charging $600,000 per 30-second commercial during its coverage of the match. That price, according to Front Office Sports reporters Michael McCarthy and Doug Greenberg, is double what the network had asked for from advertisers for other matches.

While the event opener saw a sharp increase, the first match featuring the United States saw a decline from previous World Cup openers for the country. 11.71 million watched the match in the US between FOX Sports and Telemundo. In 2014, 11.1 million watched on ESPN and in 2010 13 million watched the first US match on ABC.

Analysists have predicted FOX Sports could garner nearly $125 million in ad revenue for the duration of the tournament.

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