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Bob Costas: MLB ‘Didn’t Do Themselves Any Harm’ in Attracting Younger Viewers

“He told me that some of their research showed that their viewership for the postseason especially was up among the younger demographic.”

Jordan Bondurant

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The 2022 MLB season wrapped up a few weeks ago with the Houston Astros winning their second World Series title in five years, and it put a bow on one of the more exciting campaigns in recent years.

Baseball has struggled to keep viewers engaged and attract younger audiences to the ballpark. Often one of the biggest gripes about the sport is that the regular season and games themselves are too long and not very captivating.

But legendary broadcaster Bob Costas has a reason to believe that MLB actually did well in terms of viewership and connecting with young folks. He told Ray Ratto on 95.7 The Game in the Bay Area that everything was on the up and up.

“My sense is that it was a good year for baseball overall,” Costas said. “And I had an interview last week with (MLB commissioner) Rob Manfred, and he told me that some of their research showed that their viewership for the postseason especially was up among the younger demographic. And you have to measure it in the various ways that they receive it – streaming or this way or that as opposed to classic over the air broadcasts.”

2022 saw games streamed exclusively for the first time. The league inked deals with both Apple and NBC Sports that saw weekly contests aired on Apple TV+ and Peacock. RSNs like Bally Sports have rolled out their own exclusive options for fans to stream games, while the league’s own streaming service MLB.TV continues to offer fans opportunities to watch every out of market game from the spring training through the end of the regular season.

Costas said the league came out heading in a positive direction with fans.

“Certainly they didn’t do themselves any harm,” he said. “And this postseason was very exciting, and there were a lot of really good storylines during the course of this season. So you’d have to think that it had to be a plus.”

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Sports TV News

Al Michaels: Condensed Prep Time For Thursday Night Football ‘A Downside’

“It’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us.”

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There were bound to be unexpected hiccups and unintended consequences as Al Michaels moved to Thursday Night Football with Amazon Prime Video.

He told The Boston Globe Thursday that one of the downsides of the week’s schedule is less prep time with the teams playing in the game.

“When we go to see the teams, it’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us,” Michaels said. “And all the time I’ve been doing this, I’ve built some great relationships with coaches and players and GMs and owners and you name it, and I don’t get that much time to spend with them anymore. That’s a downside part of it for me. Some of the best stories you get come from those relationships.”

Michaels has raised eyebrows this season while not being shy about his disdain for some poor matchups early in the schedule. However, he now understands that there are quality games as the season approaches its close.

“The schedule was a little leaky with the Carolina-Atlanta game and a couple of other games that we’ve had, but now we’re positioned for a nice run down the stretch,” said Michaels.

The 78-year-old was also asked how he remains energetic and passionate for the job he’s held for so long.

The games are exciting. I love sports. You don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s no script. And unscripted television is the greatest.”

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Sports TV News

Jimmy Pitaro: Reaching Younger Audience A Priority for ESPN

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience. As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

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Many in the media industry have voice concern that millennials and Gen Z aren’t consuming traditional media outlets like previous generations. ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said it’s a priority for the network.

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience,” Pitaro said, quoted by Morning Consult sports business reporter Mark J. Burns. “As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

Pitaro made the comments at Sports Business Journal’s Media Innovators conference Wednesday. It is a continuation of comments he has made in recent years.

In 2018, Pitaro said at ESPN’s upfront “I think we are doing a fantastic job serving the sports fanatic,” said Pitaro. “What about the casual sports customer? Are we doing all we can to serve him or her?”.

In 2019, Pitaro said it was “all hands on deck” to reach a younger audience and women. “We have to be open and go to where our customers are,” he said in regards to reaching younger viewers on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Earlier this year, Pitaro added that ESPN won’t be leaving linear television anytime soon.

“What I will tell you is that as I sit here right now, that business is still incredible,” Pitaro said. “We serve the sports fan anyway and at any time. I know there are a lot of people that still want ESPN in that traditional ecosystem.”

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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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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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