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Research Analyst: MLB Streaming Deals Prize Revenue Over Reaching Younger Fans

“Even if they convert hypothetically zero of those fans, they’re still getting a new revenue stream that was not there before.”

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Is Major League Baseball making a mistake in dividing its product among regional sports networks; national outlets in ESPN, TBS, and Fox; and now, streaming platforms with Apple TV+ and Peacock?

TheWrap’s Brian Welk talked to a few industry analysts who believe MLB could be taking a risk by moving broadcasts to platforms where fans aren’t accustomed to looking for baseball.

“Think about the consumer experience of what that could be like, trying to find your team and your game,” Parks Associates senior contributing analyst Eric Sorenson told Welk. “It is very fragmented. And the question really is whether baseball fans are accustomed to it.”

Fans of particular baseball teams might encounter some frustration this season (and in future years), having to look for games beyond the regional sports networks where those broadcasts have been, other than the occasional ESPN or Fox national telecasts. And with Apple TV+ and Peacock, those fans will have to sign up for those services to watch games.

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Ultimately, MLB saw new revenue streams in streaming outlets eager to add live sports to their catalogs and perhaps prepare them for adding other sports rights deals in the future. The league is able to add revenue without changing its core product, while raising the bar for future rights deals.

Welk points out that MLB’s audience is old and getting older. The average baseball fan is now 57 years old. So the need to reach younger fans through outlets where they’re getting content, rather than network TV or cable, seems urgent.

The risk is losing the incumbent audience by scattering games across various platforms to pursue fans that might not like sports as much. But according to research analyst Bruce Leichtmann, possibly gaining those younger fans is worth the gamble. Especially when MLB is getting so much money ($115 million annually) from Apple TV+ and Peacock.

“Even if they convert hypothetically zero of those fans, they’re still getting a new revenue stream that was not there before,” said Parks Associates director of research Paul Erickson. “There’s a finite limit to how many different deals they can cut for the same base of content before they start to chip into some of the highest value content of the nature of the portfolio that constitutes MLB.TV.”

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FanDuel TV Strikes Deal With ONE Championship Martial Arts

“We’ve long respected the content the ONE Championship team is producing and are looking forward to bringing their action to our audience through FanDuel TV and FanDuel+.”

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FanDuel TV and ONE Championship Martial Arts have struck a deal that will see the MMA, Muay Thai, kickboxing, and submission grappling series air weekly events on the newly launched channel.

“We’re eager to continue expanding the variety of content we’re offering at FanDuel TV to introduce our audience to emerging sports,” said FanDuel Chief Commercial Officer Mike Raffensperger. “We’ve long respected the content the ONE Championship team is producing and are looking forward to bringing their action to our audience through FanDuel TV and FanDuel+.”

ONE Championship is a top-five global sports property for digital viewership and engagement according to Nielsen measurements.

“We are thrilled to join the FanDuel TV lineup and give our passionate U.S. audience yet another way to engage with ONE Championship,” said ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong. “Having a quality partner in FanDuel will help raise the profile of our company in the region and provide their viewers with action-packed martial arts events like they have never seen before.”

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Bob Costas Re-Lives First Announcing Assignment For NBC

“My biography usually says I began with them in 1980, but technically the first time I was on the air with them was in December 1979.”

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Legendary sports broadcaster Bob Costas appeared on KNBR’s Tolbert & Copes Thursday to discuss the death of Baseball Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry. But before the conversation turned to the recently departed pitcher, the show asked Costas about what he has announced that would surprise someone. He reminisced about his first time on the air for NBC.

“My very first assignment for NBC, my biography usually says I began with them in 1980, but technically the first time I was on the air with them was in December 1979,” Costas recounted. “There was a program on NBC then called Sports World. It was an anthology series that was their answer to the gold standard, ABC’s Wide World of Sports.

“So they traveled the globe, like Wide World of Sports did. So they sent me, wearing a red NBC jacket, to Tokyo to cover a sumo wrestling tournament with seven-time world power-lifting champion Larry Pacifico as my color man. Now, this is all the Japanese I learned as we came on the air: ‘Minasan kon’nichwa watashinoamaeha Bob Costas’, which means ‘Hello everyone, my name is Bob Costas’. If ever there was typecasting, when they sat and looked at their roster of announcers and went ‘Who should we send to the sumo wrestling? It’s gotta be Costas, who’s entire body weight would constitute one meal for the sumo wrestling champion.”

Costas departed NBC Sports in 2019 after 40 years with the network, announcing MLB, NBA, and the Olympics, in addition to his work with the network’s sumo wrestling coverage.

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Matt Leinart, Alex Smith Make Wager Over Pac-12 Championship Game

“I gotta be honest with you: I’m not that nervous. I know that sounds kind of arrogant and confident.”

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FOX Sports analyst Matt Leinart and ESPN analyst Alex Smith have made a friendly wager over the upcoming Pac-12 Championship Game.

USC, Leinart’s alma mater, is slated to play Utah, where Smith attended, in the game Friday evening on FOX from Las Vegas.

The two agreed to don the other player’s jersey. “At least it will be 11,” Smith said, noting he and Leinart both wore the number during their playing days.

“I gotta be honest with you: I’m not that nervous,” Leinart said when presented with the offer. “I know that sounds kind of arrogant and confident.” Smith jokingly responded by calling USC “Free Agent University”. He added he would overnight Leinart a jersey to ensure he had one if the Utes were victorious.

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