Sports TV News
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.”
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.
Ricky Keeler is a reporter for BSM with a primary focus on sports media podcasts and national personalities. He is also an active podcaster with an interest in pursuing a career in sports media. You can find him on Twitter @Rickinator555 or reach him by email at RickJKeeler@gmail.com.
Sports TV News
Chris ‘The Bear’ Fallica To Make FOX TV Debut on Belmont Coverage
“Everyone I’ve worked and interacted with at the company has been so helpful and open to someone who has spent his entire professional life elsewhere.”
As the college football season was winding down, fans found out one of the foundational members of the College Gameday staff would be leaving ESPN. Chris “The Bear” Fallica left the network and has been working for FOX since the new year. This weekend during the network’s coverage of The Belmont Stakes, he will finally make his TV debut for his employers.
“It’s been great. This will be my first TV appearance, so I’m excited,” Fallica said in an interview with FOXSports.com. “But we’ve been cranking out content on the digital side since January, and I’m very happy with how the USFL picks have been going (4-0 last week for those of you counting at home). Everyone I’ve worked and interacted with at the company has been so helpful and open to someone who has spent his entire professional life elsewhere.”
Fallica, who worked for ESPN for nearly three decades, is going to be a major presence in FOX’s gambling content both on air and online. Making picks is nothing new. He had been doing it on College GameDay for years prior to his exit.
In addition to making football picks, horse racing is going to be a major part of what The Bear does for FOX. While this will be his TV debut on FOX, Fallica put the spotlight on one of his colleagues.
“It was a great decision to bring Tom [Durkin] back for this call. His voice is synonymous with the sport for a generation of racing fans, so it will be a treat to hear him call a race again.”
Durbin is coming out of retirement to call the race. This is the first year that the Belmont is airing on FOX as part of a rights deal with the New York Racing Association.
Sports TV News
FOX Reportedly Considering Replacing Reggie Bush on Big Noon Kickoff
“Marchand writes that the favorite to replace the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner is the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner. Mark Ingram II is expected to retire from the NFL and join FOX.”
It looks like changes are coming to FOX’s college football coverage. Andrew Marchand reports that the network is considering replacing Reggie Bush on Big Noon Kickoff.
Bush and the network reportedly argued over money before the 2022 season. FOX kicked the tires on multiple options, including Desmond Howard and Robert Griffin III of ESPN. Eventually, it decided to bring Bush back on a one year deal. With that deal set to expire and the two sides again at an impasse, FOX is eyeing other options.
Marchand writes that the favorite to replace the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner is the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner. Mark Ingram II is expected to retire from the NFL and join FOX.
If Ingram does join the show, he would be the first analyst from outside of the conferences FOX carries. Ingram played his college football at Alabama. He has since amassed more than 8000 yards over 13 seasons in the NFL.
FOX declined to comment on the report. Marchand reports that with no deal finalized, there is an outside shot that Ingram returns to the NFL, Bush returns to FOX and there is no change at all. That, however, is considered a long shot.
Sports TV News
ESPN, Omaha Productions Launching Alternate Formula 1 Broadcast
“The Grandstand with Daniel Ricciardo and Will Arnett will air on ESPN2 while the traditional telecast of the race airs on ABC.”
ESPN and Omaha Productions are following the ManningCast playbook once again. They are launching an alternate broadcast for ESPN’s coverage of Formula 1 racing.
Titled The Grandstand, the coverage will feature F1 racer Daniel Ricciardo and celebrity fan Will Arnett, star of Arrested Development and The Lego Movie. ESPN will rollout the telecast for three races, starting with the Formula 1 Pirelli Canadian Grand Prix on June 18.
“This is going to be a hoot!” Ricciardo said in a press release. “As you’d expect Will and I are going to have some fun with the show, but we’re hoping it just feels like you’re watching F1 with your mates. We will have some amazing guests, plenty of laughs and with some luck, bring fans another step closer to the sport I love so much. Buckle up America!”
Formula 1 has gained plenty of new fans thanks to the Netflix series Drive to Survive. Arnett admits that he is one of them. He has gone all in with the sport, even hosting a podcast with legendary F1 driver Mika Häkkinen.
The Grandstand with Daniel Ricciardo and Will Arnett will air on ESPN2 while the traditional telecast of the race airs on ABC. Following the Canadian Grand Prix, Ricciardo and Arnett are scheduled to return in October for the United States Grand Prix and in November for the Las Vegas Grand Prix.
“It’s great to be partnering with ESPN to expand the ‘megacast’ format into F1,” NFL legend and founder of Omaha Productions, Peyton Manning said. “We are excited to do this project with Daniel and Will. They are good friends who will bring expertise and fun to the broadcast.”