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Apple TV+ Releases First 12 Weeks of ‘Friday Night Baseball’ Schedule

The Dodgers’ Jackie Robinson Day game April 15 is among those exclusively available on Apple TV+.

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For the debut of its Friday Major League Baseball package, Apple TV+ is featuring some exclusive games that will surely draw fans to sign up for the service. But making those games available only on Apple’s streaming service could also alienate some longtime baseball fans.

As BSM covered earlier this week, Max Scherzer’s debut with the New York Mets — in which he’ll face his former team, the Washington Nationals — will be exclusive to Apple TV+. That might not be popular with Mets fans looking to see their offseason prize take the mound, nor with Nats supporters eager to see one of their favorite former players who helped the team to a 2019 World Series championship.

On Tuesday, Apple announced its schedule for the first 12 weeks of its 2022 MLB package and what immediately stands out is that the Los Angeles Dodgers’ April 15 game — on Jackie Robinson Day, the 75th anniversary of his first game in the major leagues — will also only be available on Apple TV+. The telecast won’t be available for Dodgers fans on SportsNet LA, which is sure to cause some griping.

As media and fans were told by Apple, “These scheduled games are available to anyone with internet access, for free, only on Apple TV+.”

For a limited time, no subscription fee will be required to view the Friday Night Baseball doubleheader on Apple TV+, though it hasn’t been announced how long that free availability will last. Perhaps for the first 12 weeks of the season? That will give fans plenty of time to find and sign up for Apple TV+ and decide whether or not they want to subscribe.

The April 8 debut of Friday Night Baseball will also feature a matchup between the American League champion Houston Astros and Los Angeles Angels, featuring AL MVP Shohei Ohtani, for the second half of its doubleheader at 9:30 p.m. ET. On April 15, the Tampa Bay Rays at the Chicago White Sox will precede the Cincinnati Reds facing the Dodgers on Jackie Robinson Day.

Other notable games featured during the first 12 weeks of Apple TV+’s coverage include:

  • May 6: White Sox at Red Sox, 7 p.m. ET
  • May 6: Rays at Mariners, 9:30 p.m. ET
  • May 13: Padres at Braves, 7 p.m. ET
  • June 10: Rays at Twins, 8 p.m. ET
  • June 17: White Sox at Astros, 8 p.m. ET
  • June 24: Cubs at Cardinals, 8 p.m. ET

Is MLB and Apple TV+ being optimistic by scheduling the second half of these doubleheaders for 9:30 p.m. ET? Will the first games be finished by then? Did commissioner Rob Manfred, in his quest to speed up the pace of play, tell Apple that games will last two-and-a-half hours?

Of course, fans uninterested in the first game of the Friday doubleheader likely won’t care. And those engaged in the first game won’t necessarily be switching over to the second game. Presumably, that’s one advantage to having these games on a streaming service, rather than the same TV network.

No word yet from Apple on who the broadcast teams will be for these Friday Night Baseball games.

Sports TV News

Robert Griffin III Replaces Randy Moss on Monday Night Countdown

The network announced the addition of Robert Griffin III to the pre-game program.

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Robert Griffin III
David Becker, Getty Images

With Monday Night Countdown set to lead into Thursday’s preseason matchup with the Chicago Bears and Seattle Seahawks, ESPN announced their lineup for the show.

The network announced the addition of Robert Griffin III to the pre-game program. Robert Griffin III will join Booger McFarland and Steve Young as the show’s main analysts.

They will be partnered with Suzy Kolber who returns for her sixth year as the show’s host and news breaker Adam Schefter.

It was reported in July that analyst Randy Moss would not be returning to the show, opting instead to focus solely on Sunday Night Countdown.

The first regular season action featuring Monday Night Countdown will be on Monday, September 12 when the Seahawks play the Denver Broncos.

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Sports TV News

Leafs Nation Network, the Toronto Maple Leafs Channel, Is Going Off the Air

“Thank you for your viewership. As of Sept. 1, Leafs Nation Network TV services will no longer be on air.”

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The Toronto Maple Leafs launched Leafs TV, a team-specific specialty channel in 2001 and rebranded it as Leafs Nation Network in 2017. However, after nearly twenty-one years on the air, it will fade to black at the end of August.

“Thank you for your viewership,” the channel told viewers who have tuned in recently. “As of Sept. 1, Leafs Nation Network TV services will no longer be on air.”

The news was confirmed to the Sun. Staff said they had been informed of the news a few weeks ago however few jobs are expected to be lost, of any, as many of the LNN duties will be moved to the digital format.

Leafs TV was part of the sale of the Toronto Maple Leafs franchise sale in 2011 to Bell-Rogers communications (worth $1.32 billion). With that sale, Leafs TV began to become a “redundant” channel focusing mainly on classic games and interviews once Rogers made a 2014 deal to become the dominant NHL network, grabbing the majority of live programming.

“Leafs TV was a big bargaining chip at the time of the (Rogers-Bell sale), but they’ve come to see that (lack of game broadcast presence) doesn’t work,” a source told the Sun.

A statement from MLSE on Tuesday read in part: “With new and increasing opportunities to share content on its digital platforms, subscribers to the Leafs Nation Network were informed earlier this month that the channel would cease being broadcast on Sept. 1. Maple Leafs game day and practice coverage will continue to be shared across the team’s digital platforms, combined with exciting new content on the team’s social and digital channels. The team will continue to produce live Marlies home games with details being shared in the weeks ahead about where those broadcasts will be made available.”

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Sports TV News

Stephen A. Smith Says He Wants Mike Francesa on First Take

Russo smiled and chirped back, ““You can’t beat me, you’re never gonna beat him.”

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Stephen A. Smith, Mike Francesa

Stephen A. Smith seems to be looking to debate every major media personality with big opinions and he has set his eyes on Mike Francesa.

Smith was on First Take on Wednesday with weekly guest Chris “Mad Dog” Russo and chastising Russo for being upset with Aaron Rodgers calling out his wide receivers. That’s when Smith brought up the former WFAN tandem of Mike and the Mad Dog.

“The thing that disappoints me about you,” Smith said to Russo, “you’re upset with honesty. You are not only hosting your own radio show, you have your own channel.”

Smith continued, “You are one of the pioneers if not THE pioneer with Mike Francesa, who, by the way, I got to get him on this show one day too, with you. You understand what I’m saying? I mean it would be my honor to have Mike Francesa too.”

Russo smiled and chirped back, ““You can’t beat me, you’re never gonna beat him.”

Smith returned once more with “I ain’t scared. I’m never gonna beat him, but I’ll try, damn it.”

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