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Yankees Threaten ESPN Boycott Over Sunday Night Schedule

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The New York Yankees are Major League Baseball’s most popular team. Fans watch their games regardless of whether they love or hate the Bronx Bombers. So then, it makes sense that ESPN would want to feature the Yankees in as many of its Sunday Night Baseball Broadcasts as possible.

Last winter, ESPN announced a fixed schedule of select dates that had the Yankees playing on Sunday night four times during the regular season. The number of “flex dates” built into the broadcast schedule though has had the Yankees playing in that slot way more often. It is something the team’s fan base outside of the Northeast might enjoy, but manager Aaron Boone absolutely hates it. In particular, Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reports that Boone is upset about a July 8th game against the Toronto Blue Jays that ESPN has moved to Sunday night, as the Yankees were already scheduled to play a double header in Baltimore the following day.

Boone wants the game moved back to its original 1pm start time and according to Marchand’s reporting, the team may shut any ESPN personalities out of interviews in order to get its way.

In an effort to change the time of the July 8 “Sunday Night Baseball” telecast, the Yankees are threatening to boycott ESPN personnel all year, according to sources with knowledge of the team’s thinking.

“It is a tool in the toolbox,” one source said.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Jimmy Traina, Boone said he was concerned for player safety.

…that is not good for the product on the field or the safety of our guys having [to] go from [a] night game, flight, and right into a doubleheader. Anyone who would argue that is not being truthful.

ESPN says that both teams were aware the Sunday Night Baseball game between the Yankees and the Blue Jays was on the schedule since well before it became public knowledge.

Major League Baseball can step in if they feel it is what is best for the sport. So far, no one in the league office has indicated any intention of doing so.

Sports TV News

FOX Will Use Chris Fallica On Belmont Stakes Coverage

“While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.”

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The Bear will be more than just a college football presence when he moves to FOX. Chris Fallica wrapped his final duties for ESPN last week and is now headed to a new network and will tackle some new responsibilities.

Fallica’s new role at FOX will involve plenty of sports gambling content. Richard Deitsch of The Athletic reports that content will include horse racing.

“One Fox Sports source said look for him to appear on the Belmont Stakes coverage,” Deitsch wrote in his weekly media column.

Starting in 2023, horse racing’s Triple Crown will not be seen all in one place. While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.

How the network intends to use Chris Fallica on the broadcast is not clear. Given that he is coming to the network to contribute to gambling conversations, it is likely he would either be making picks or at least reviewing odds right up to the start of the race.

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Sports TV News

NBCUniversal CEO Expects Disney To Buy Company’s Hulu Stake

“Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal.”

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The Walt Disney Company owns 67% of Hulu. The other 33% is owned by NBCUniversal. The latter company doesn’t expect that to be the case forever.

“It’s worth a lot of money,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said at an investor conference earlier this week, “and I think there’s no indication that anything else is going to happen than Disney writing us a big check.”

Hulu is primarily a platform for movies and television shows. It is a major part of Disney’s deal with the NHL though. The streaming giant is part of the package of 103 games that are exclusive to ESPN and ABC. Hulu is also a live TV provider for many. The company’s Hulu Plus Live TV package had over 4 million subscribers as of the summer of 2022.

Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal. He credits sports and content migrated from Hulu as the reason Peacock has grown to 18 million paid subscriptions since September.

Deadline reports that if Disney does want to acquire NBCUniversal’s stake in Hulu, “the price could fluctuate but will be in the tens of billions of dollars.”

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Sports TV News

Greg Olsen Believes He and Kevin Burkhardt Can Handle Games ‘On Any Stage’

“Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

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Greg Olsen

Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen are on tap to call Super Bowl LVII in February, and Olsen told Front Office Sports he has the confidence to announce the game with no hesitations.

“If you’re asking me, I think Kevin and I have shown that we can handle a game on any stage – on any day. We just did it on Thanksgiving. We’ll do it again around Christmas. And obviously throughout the [NFL] Playoffs,” said Olsen. “So whatever decision they make. Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

“But as of now, I anticipate Kevin and I, the two of us, with Erin and Tom down on the sidelines, the four of us, broadcasting the Super Bowl in February in Arizona. Until I’m told otherwise, that’s how we’re proceeding.”

Olsen also told FOS he has negotiated a new contract with FOX Sports, but declined to share details. He is slated to be replaced on the top broadcast crew once Tom Brady ends his playing career. Brady will then begin a 10-year, $375 million contract to serve as the network’s top NFL game analyst and brand ambassador.

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