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Heidi Watney Understands AppleTV+ Criticism

“I worked for a RSN. I did games with Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy for 4 years in Boston and I was always mad when we didn’t get to do a big marquee game.”

Ricky Keeler

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As AppleTV+ begins preparation for their broadcast of Yankees and Red Sox Friday, Heidi Watney is understand of some critiques of the streaming platform during a momentous occasion.

Watney along with Stephen Nelson, Hunter Pence, and Katie Nolan, will broadcast the game for AppleTV+ as Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge chases the franchise and American League home run record. Watney was a guest on The Dan Graca Show on ESPN New York Thursday night and she said she will be reporting on the early portion of the game from a unique spot in Yankee Stadium.

“We are going to be out there for the start of the game. The plan is for me to be out there with the Bleacher Creatures and do roll call, which was in the plans already before even this was going to happen,” said Watney.

As Watney said, this plan was already put in place before Judge had a chance on the record. However, she says the goal of these Apple TV+ broadcasts is to bring fans inside the ballpark, which could be special depending on whether or not a home run is hit on Friday.

“That’s the great part about these Apple broadcasts. They are young, fresh, hip, and we want to bring old fans and new fans into the stands, show them the experience of being at the ballpark and that’s a big part of my role. If Aaron wants to hit one in his first AB right to me, I’m going to be ready for it.”

Watney has experience working at a regional sports network (RSN) when she was at NESN (2008-2011), so she understands why fans would be upset that the local announcers might not get to call the historic moment. However, she says the Apple TV broadcast makes a point to highlight the local broadcasters who are with the team on a daily basis.

“I get you want to just be able to turn on your TV and go to your local station that you are used to going to.

“I worked for a RSN. I did games with Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy for 4 years in Boston and I was always mad when we didn’t get to do a big marquee game. ‘I do 150 games a year and you are going to take this good one?’ So, I get the other side of the coin. It’s an exciting thing for us and an exciting thing for baseball to get to hear other voices as well and get to hear a different take on the game.

“That’s one of the things I think we do well on our broadcast is to give credit to the folks who are calling 150 of the 162 games a year. I rely on a lot of those people. I texted Meredith Marakovits earlier this week. It’s all one big family. Baseball is one big happy family.”

As many have pointed out, it is free to make an Apple TV account to watch the game, but it won’t stop the criticism from many about streaming games in general. However, Watney pays no mind to the criticism that the broadcast receives.

“Especially this week with the history on the line, there’s a lot of people that are like I’m not going to be able to watch this? Yes, you are. But, like anything in life that’s worth doing anything, it might take a little extra work and when I say a little, I mean a little bit of extra work…Anything that’s new is going to be something that’s different for people. I don’t think streaming is all that new. I just don’t listen to that kind of criticism because you can get it for free.”

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Sports TV News

ESPN’s NFL Programming Sees Big September Growth

For ESPN, September has been a really strong month with their NFL programming.

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For ESPN, September has been a really strong month with their NFL programming.

Sunday NFL Countdown is averaging 1.4 million viewers per show thus far in 2022. That up 15% from 2021’s first three shows of the NFL season. The season premiere – Sunday, Sept. 11 – averaged 1.6 million viewers, tying the network’s best Week 1 audience for the show since 2016 and is up 35% year-over-year.

NFL Live experienced large growth too. The episode airing after the first NFL Sunday, on Monday September 12, averaged 664,000 viewers which beat every NFL Live episode last season, including the most-watched episode on 2021 (December 17) which grabbed 635,000 viewers.

Monday Night Countdown is averaging 1.3 million viewers for its two, non-staggered September episodes, which aired in its traditional timeslot (6-8 pm).

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ESPN Assigns Broadcast Teams for MLB Wild Card Round

In preparation for the postseason, ESPN has assigned the broadcast teams for the series forthcoming.

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There are just a few games left in the MLB season and the postseason begins this weekend with the Wild Card round. In preparation, ESPN has assigned the broadcast teams for the series forthcoming.

Andrew Marchand reports that the team assigned to the presumptive New York Mets Wild Card series will be Karl Ravech, David Cone and Eduardo Perez. The Mets still mathematically can win the NL East but they trail the Braves by two games with three to play.

He also reports that the St. Louis Wild Card series will be called by Michael Kay and Alex Rodriguez. The Cleveland series will be broadcast by Boog Sciambi and Doug Glanville while the Toronto series will be called by Dave Flemming, Jessica Mendoza and Tim Kurkjian.

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Stugotz: ‘Sean McDonough Hates The Aaron Judge Cut-Ins’

“If you look at the numbers, if you look at the interest, if you look at the revenue that it generates for the networks, it makes more sense to have an Aaron Judge at-bat interrupted by an Iowa State field goal attempt than it does the other way around.”

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College football fans are not being shy with how they feel about Aaron Judge. Whether it is private conversations or social media posts, people are making their disdain for the cut-ins to college football games on ESPN networks when the Yankee slugger comes to bat known. On Monday morning, Stugotz added that it isn’t just fans that are unhappy.

The Dan Le Batard Show discussed the second straight week of cut-ins on Monday morning. Stugotz pointed out that one of ESPN’s primary college football voices sounds just as annoyed as fans are.

“Sean McDonough hates the toss to Aaron Judge,” he said. Hates it!”

Last week, ESPN and ABC cut into games when Judge was sitting on 60 home runs. This week, he was sitting on 61. A 62nd home run would be the most in American League history.

Stugotz added that has to be part of McDonough’s frustration.

“In his defense, what are we cutting in for? I have no idea if [Aaron Judge] is breaking a record, what record he’s breaking, if he’s clean. I have no idea!”

Producer Mike Ryan Ruiz said the fact that Judge is yet to deliver is making the cut-ins more frustrating for fans.

“I think what hurts the whole thing is that Aaron Judge has been terrible during these cut-ins,” Ruiz said. “He’s been God awful during these cut-ins. I haven’t seen a single home runs during one of these cut-ins. There was genuine fury at a watch party I was at. Fury! At Aaron Judge.”

A popular criticism of ESPN has been that this kind of attention would not be paid to Aaron Judge if he was chasing a mark that wasn’t the home run record if he played anywhere other than New York. According to Ryan, the mistake is bigger than that. Why would regular season baseball ever interrupt college football?

“If you look at the numbers, if you look at the interest, if you look at the revenue that it generates for the networks, it makes more sense to have an Aaron Judge at-bat interrupted by an Iowa State field goal attempt than it does the other way around.”

There are four games left in Major League Baseball’s regular season. You can bet college football fans will make plenty of signs for College GameDay if Judge cannot hit number 62 before the playoffs start.

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