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Peacock, YouTube Possible Suitors For Midweek MLB Games

ESPN passed on the midweek package during their latest deal with the league.

Russ Heltman

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Courtesy: MLB

When ESPN re-upped its deal with Major League Baseball this past May they included a key wrinkle in the $3.85 billion deal. The network passed on their usual package of midweek games. Those contests are now up for grabs, with ESPN set to relinquish their rights next year.

A few suitors are in the works, according to MLB CRO Noah Garden.“The good news is that we have a lot of options, We’re looking to continue to distribute these games in a bigger way on emerging platforms. This content is tailormade for that.”

ESPN gave up the package because the network also had to share those midweek games with regional sports networks, cannibalizing their broadcast. Despite that, they still have rights to Sunday Night Baseball, the Home Run Derby, and any possible expansion to the MLB Wild Card Series.

Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand laid out two possible suitors for the midweek package, Peacock and YouTube. The NBC streaming service has been involved with live sports package negotiations recently and could need more big fish to keep up with Paramount+ and ESPN+.

“There’s more activity than you think; it’s not traditional conversations,” Garden said. “Some have big platforms and want content. Others want content to grow their platforms. It’s different conversations with everybody.”

Peacock is exclusively streaming some Olympics events and has established a relationship with WWE. Meanwhile, YouTube already has a firm connection to the sport with their MLB Game of the Week, airing free on the app. Ourand also noted that sports gambling companies could make a push for the rights, but deemed it unlikely.

“They are kicking the tires on content in general because they want to deliver an experience to people that want to gamble that’s different than our normal product,” Garden said. “But we’ll never want to take our core feed, that’s a family feed, and load it up with gambling.”

Sports TV News

Netflix CEO: ‘We’re Not Anti-Sports, We’re Just Pro-Profit’

“He characterized expensive media rights as a “loss leader” in the streaming world and noted that Netflix doesn’t view sports as a necessity to grow.”

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Netflix will not join Apple and Amazon in the rush to gobble up live sports rights. Co-CEO Ted Sarandos addressed the streaming giant’s disinterest at the UBS Global Technology, Media & Telecom Conference on Wednesday.

He characterized expensive media rights as a “loss leader” in the streaming world and noted that Netflix doesn’t view sports as a necessity to grow.

“We’re not anti-sports,” Sarandos said according to Deadline. “We’re just pro-profit. We have yet to figure out how to do it. But I’m very confident we can get twice as big as we are without sports.” 

Questions about the interest the company has in carrying live sports have come up several times in the past. Sarandon made similar comments last year when asked about it.

Reed Hastings, Sarandos’s co-CEO at Netflix, has a slightly different view. In 2021, he indicated that Netflix could be interested in F1 rights someday thanks to the success of its documentary series Drive to Survive, but that would be a special case. Any league interested in doing business with Netflix, he said, would have to allow Netflix to control all of its content.

Ted Sarandos echoed that sentiment in his most recent comments. He said that the company does not see a way to profit by “renting big-league sports.”

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Sports TV News

FOX Sued for Patent Infringement Over NFL Scheduling

“Recentive Analytics filed suit against FOX in a Delaware federal court on November 29 according to Yahoo Sports.”

Jordan Bondurant

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An analytics company is suing FOX over claims that the network developed a mapping tool using their patented technology to create a season slate of NFL games.

Recentive Analytics filed suit against FOX in a Delaware federal court on November 29 according to Yahoo Sports.

The lawsuit claims FOX used access to Recentive’s predictive analytics tools to develop a resource of their own that would create optimal schedules for its 1 and 4 p.m. NFLwindows.

The company is seeking a declaration that FOX infringed on two of its patents. Recentive is also suing for damages and wants an injunction keeping FOX from using Recentive tech and preventing the network from “selling, offering for sale, marketing or using any internal network and mapping analytics tool for the scheduling and regionalization of events covered by the patents.”

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Sports TV News

FOX Will Use Chris Fallica On Belmont Stakes Coverage

“While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.”

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The Bear will be more than just a college football presence when he moves to FOX. Chris Fallica wrapped his final duties for ESPN last week and is now headed to a new network and will tackle some new responsibilities.

Fallica’s new role at FOX will involve plenty of sports gambling content. Richard Deitsch of The Athletic reports that content will include horse racing.

“One Fox Sports source said look for him to appear on the Belmont Stakes coverage,” Deitsch wrote in his weekly media column.

Starting in 2023, horse racing’s Triple Crown will not be seen all in one place. While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.

How the network intends to use Chris Fallica on the broadcast is not clear. Given that he is coming to the network to contribute to gambling conversations, it is likely he would either be making picks or at least reviewing odds right up to the start of the race.

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