ESPN announced its new coverage strategy for Sunday Night Baseball. They have reached a multi-year agreement with five-time World Series Champion and former Cy Young Award winner David Cone. Cone will team up with Karl Ravech, who becomes just the fourth-ever Sunday Night Baseball play-by-play voice, as well as Eduardo Perez, to form the new Sunday Night Baseball broadcast booth. The deals for Ravech and Perez are part of tong-term contract extensions with the network. They along with Cone will call ESPN’s 25 Sunday Night Baseball telecasts as well as other exclusive games during the season, including MLB Opening Night.
ESPN also confirmed Alex Rodriguez and Michael Kay would be hosting a special presentation of Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN2: Sunday Night Baseball with Kay-Rod.
The eight Sunday Night Baseball with Kay-Rod presentations on ESPN2 will coincide with ESPN’s highest-profile rivalry games, including the New York Yankees vs. the Boston Red Sox. In addition to discussion and analysis, the telecasts will integrate fantasy baseball, predictive analytics and special guests tied to the game.
“As we begin our next chapter of baseball coverage, we aim to maximize the value of this new rights agreement by prioritizing innovation and compelling storytelling, Norby Williamson, ESPN Executive Vice President & Executive Editor, said in a press release. “We welcome David Cone to ESPN and believe he and Eduardo Perez will offer a master class in contemporary analysis, including Statcast-driven data and discussion. Karl Ravech, who has been our ‘Mr. Baseball’ for three decades, will lead the booth with the command and credibility that he’s displayed throughout his career. I’m equally excited for the duo of Alex Rodriguez and Michael Kay to team up and offer fans a new, engaging experience. The innovative Sunday Night Baseball with Kay-Rod presentations will be informative and entertaining and play a crucial role in our overall Sunday Night Baseball content offerings. We’re grateful for the collaboration with the YES Network and look forward to starting the 2022 season.”
If the MLB Wild Card Series returns in 2022, the event will be fully exclusive to ESPN platforms and both new commentator teams will contribute to coverage.
Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown, will be on the road in 2022 for a dozen on-site pre-game shows leading into Sunday Night Baseball. Karl Ravech will continue to host Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown on the road. Ravech will be joined by ESPN’s deep roster of MLB analysts and reporters, including Jessica Mendoza, Eduardo Perez, David Cone, Marly Rivera, Doug Glanville, Buster Olney, Tim Kurkjian, Jeff Passan and Jesse Rogers.
ESPN Radio will air the 2022 Major League Baseball season. Jon “Boog” Sciambi will enter his 13th season as ESPN Radio’s Sunday Night Baseball play-by-play voice. ESPN analyst Doug Glanville will join the ESPN Radio team for his first season as analyst, teaming up with Sciambi. Coverage will also include reports from Marly Rivera, Buster Olney and Tim Kurkjian.
The 2022 Sunday Night Baseball schedules for ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Radio and ESPN Deportes will be announced in the coming weeks.
NBA Draft Ratings Rise 32% For ESPN and ABC
“The event peaked at 8:15pm ET when four and a half million viewers tuned in.”
The 2022 NBA Draft may have lacked the high profile prospect that prior drafts have had, but the intrigue surrounding the top three picks led to strong audience interest.
With all eyes on the Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Houston Rockets viewership for the draft rose 32% year over year for ESPN. The first round on ABC and ESPN averaged close to four million viewers (3,988,000).
Paolo Banchero wound up going #1 to the Magic, Chet Holmgren to #2 to the Thunder, and Jabari Smith Jr. #3 to the Rockets. The full two rounds of the draft averaged just over three million viewers (3,047,000). Round 2 aired exclusively on ESPN.
The first round on ESPN and ABC was the most-watched program for June 23rd across all of television in all key demos. The event peaked at 8:15pm ET when four and a half million viewers (4,500,000) tuned in.
Shannon Sharpe Apologizes to Richard Jefferson for Calling Him Lazy
FS1’s Shannon Sharpe took to social media to clear the air between him and ESPN’s Richard Jefferson over some comments Sharpe made about the former NBA champion.
Sharpe said Jefferson was lazy for only wanting to talk about basketball. Jefferson is an NBA analyst for ESPN and doesn’t normally appear on debate shows or provide analysis on other sports.
“There is not a person in this industry since I have retired that would ever refer to my work ethic as being lazy,” Jefferson said in a response video on his TikTok. “So as long as you live don’t ever do that again or this conversation is gonna be much different.”
Sharpe saw the video and apologized saying his assessment of Jefferson was lazy.
“I want to apologize, I come to you as a man, Rich, and apologize to you for my take on what you said,” he said.
Much like Jefferson did, Sharpe then went on to break down the differences between hosts on debate shows who have to watch and study various different sports and analysts like Jefferson who only specialize in analyzing one sport.
But ultimately Sharpe wanted to bury the hatchet and make it clear to the internet that there’s no problems between the two.
“Richard and I do not have a beef,” Sharpe said. “There is nothing going on, and this is my last time addressing this issue.”
Jefferson tweeted on Saturday accepting Shannon’s apology.
Media Rights Deals are Recession-Proof, Benefit from Longer Terms
As recently as last week, Apple and Major League Soccer agreed to a $2.5 billion deal. The NFL is mulling billion-dollar deals for just about everything, most recently the NFL Sunday Ticket package which will leave DirecTV after this year
The U.S. economy may be in the “worry” phase about an upcoming recession, but if recent television deals are any indication, sports leagues are not. Media rights deals continue to skyrocket despite all of other financial indicators showing that people, businesses are currently struggling.
As recently as last week, Apple and Major League Soccer agreed to a $2.5 billion deal. The NFL is mulling billion-dollar deals for just about everything, most recently the NFL Sunday Ticket package which will leave DirecTV after this year. Those are just a couple of examples of the massive figures that seem to run counter what the average person is dealing with.
Media rights seem to be unharmed by overall macroeconomic environment. It’s interesting to look at why.
One of the main reasons seems to be scarcity. There are only so many NFLs in the world. The number might be one. If you have those media rights, you have access to a multitude of cashflow. It’s important to have the product that people want. Since people will not stop wanting their sports, it’s important to have live sports.
Also, fan participation isn’t one that seems to dwindle, overall, even in a pandemic or financial crunch. Fans care about their team, sport and the league they are in. That kind of fervor for a product makes payment to them or to whomever owns their rights to see them, a foregone conclusion.
A huge reason, also, for the value of a franchise and/or media rights deal to be largely unharmed by current economic climates is their length. Those rights are structured to be long-term and hopefully weather whatever financial crisis may be on the horizon in a hope that it is temporary.