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Sunday Night Baseball Completes Season With Growing Audience

“The return of fans and a normal 162-game schedule seemingly did a lot to help MLB ratings on ESPN.”

Russ Heltman

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Courtesy: ESPN


ESPN celebrated a banner season for Sunday Night Baseball this week. Their marquee MLB offering was a big winner in the ratings all season long. According to Nielsen, Sunday Night Baseball posted 20% ratings growth compared to last season, averaging 1,456,000 viewers across 24 telecasts.

The 32nd season in the property’s run brought a lot of growth in one key demographic: women 18-34.

That section of the ratings increased by 43% compared to the same 2020 figure. Overall, 18-34 numbers increased by 25%, and men 18-34 went up by 17%.

Sunday Night Baseball produced double-digit gains compared to the full-length 2019 edition as well. Women 18-34 increased by 19%, Men 18-34 went up 11%, and the entire 18-34 population increased by 13%.

The return of fans and a normal 162-game schedule seemingly did a lot to help the ratings for Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN. The shortened 2020 season ran into criticism over legitimacy after a 60-game run with a few of the teams facing COVID-19 outbreaks. The lack of fans in the stands turned off viewers as well. It’s not as easy to adequately produce a three-hour baseball broadcast with no fan shots for a producer to work with.

ESPN also broke ground by airing their first all-women national broadcast in network history with analyst Jessica Mendoza and Baltimore Orioles announcer Melanie Newman this past Wednesday.

“I knew I had a full season with the Orioles, we were going to bounce back and forth with TV and radio, and it was going to be a great time. So when these other opportunities started coming along, it was really cool,” Newman said to the Associated Press. “It just makes it all the more fun when you don’t expect it, and you don’t set yourself up for those type of situations.”

ESPN is pushing their baseball properties to new heights as they get set to air the American League Wild Card Game on Oct. 5.

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.

Jordan Bondurant

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YES Network

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

Jordan Bondurant

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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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Sports TV News

Return of Bob Iger Puts Pac-12 ‘Not Exactly In A Great Place’

“I think it’s even more evident it’s not gonna happen. These places aren’t gonna spend big money on the Pac-12.”

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The Pac-12 is currently in a media rights negotiation with partners for its next TV deal after the departure of USC and UCLA. The conference has remained committed to the stance that it feels it can match the dollar amount given to the Big 12 from FOX and ESPN. However, Andrew Marchand of The New York Post isn’t so confident.

During The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast, Marchand said the recent return of Bob Iger as Disney CEO, coupled with recent layoffs from Amazon, could spell bad news for the PAC 12’s quest to match what the Big 12 received.

“Do I still think they can get the same number as the Big 12? I do, but you start thinking about where this is going and that’s not exactly a great place to be if you’re the Pac-12. They might get the number, but the idea that they’ll get a lot more than the Big 12 — which I’ve already said is not gonna happen — I think it’s even more evident it’s not gonna happen. These places aren’t gonna spend big money on the Pac-12…I think there’s some rough waters out in the Pacific.”

Marchand said if the University of California Board of Regents won’t allow UCLA to join the Big Ten as expected, the conference would then set its sights on Washington and Oregon, which would continue to decimate the Pac-12.

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