Facebook and the MLB’s streaming relationship will be drastically different for the 2019 season following a contract renewal Friday. Facebook exclusively streamed 26 games last season but will have just six non-exclusive games, one per month, for the 2019 campaign.
“Collaborating with Facebook will again drive the creation of new ways for us to deliver content to baseball fans that engage on the platform daily,” said MLB executive vice president of global media Chris Tully. ”Facebook provides a community-focused environment that will allow for fans to connect with their favourite teams via custom on-demand content and live game action driven by an original MLB Network social-first broadcast production.”
All six games will air live, available for free to a global audience on Facebook Watch, with limitations to blackout rules and certain international markets.
Last year’s presentation disgruntled MLB.TV customers who were forced to watch on Facebook Watch for the select games. Those fans often had to deal with performance issues and unsavory spam bots, which may speak to the revision for this deal.
According to Morning Consult, Facebook is giving MLB the freedom to sell a sponsorship against the livestreamed broadcasts where the league would take in 100% of the revenue.
Though there have been hiccups in the relationship so far, one success the partnership has seen is a younger audience taking advantage of the live stream since Facebook and the MLB came together in 2017 for 20 games.
“We look forward to testing a new model for live games, which should help the league continue to reach a younger and more global audience,” said Rob Shaw, Facebook’s sports partnerships lead for leagues and media.
Last year’s streams brought in 123 million views over the 25 games with an average viewership 20 years younger than the usual MLB television audience. Both Facebook and the MLB considered 2018 a success thanks to those numbers considering the $30 million renewal for that season.
The financial figures haven’t been released for this season’s deal yet. Though after calling 2018 a success both parties seem to be happy with each other and are using 2019 to work out the kinks.
FOX Sports Launches Podcast Network
“The Fox Sports Podcast Network will be the new home to premium podcasts from Fox Sports’ prominent voices and storytellers.”
Fox Sports officially launched its podcast network on Thursday, led by FS1 host Skip Bayless, and the network announced additional shows set to debut in the coming months.
The Fox Sports Podcast Network will be the new home to premium podcasts from Fox Sports’ prominent voices and storytellers.
“Fox Sports is the leading destination for top quality original digital content from the biggest personalities in sports,” said Fox Sports EVP and Head of Content Charlie Dixon said in a press release. “The creation of this new podcast network allows us to deliver fans exclusive commentary and enthralling stories providing hours of entertainment through this important medium.”
The Skip Bayless Show debuted Thursday and features Bayless breaking down the top sports stories combined with his own stories surrounding the biggest moments in athletics history. The weekly podcast, which will also feature interviews and unscripted responses to fan questions, rolled out alongside a number of pods that have already brought in millions of listeners.
Club Shay Shay is a podcast featuring Bayless’s Undisputed co-host Shannon Sharpe that has joined the network. Flippin’ Bats, hosted by Ben Verlander, and The No. 1 Ranked Show, presented by college football analyst RJ Young, are also among the offerings on the network.
Fox also announced debut dates for two highly-anticipated podcasts. What’s Wright with Nick Wright will feature a video series alongside the podcast offering and will premiere on March 1. Wright will be doing a lot of ranking on a variety of topics each week. The show will have new episodes every Tuesday.
Then in April, Tom Rinaldi will begin presenting what the network calls a serialized audio documentary about former Major League Baseball player Lyman Wesley Bostock Jr. The podcast is entitled Wesley. Bostock was one of baseball’s top players in the late 1970s before he was murdered in 1978. The podcast will be a deep dive into the events surrounding and including Bostock’s killing.
You can listen to Fox Sports Podcast Network shows on Apple and Spotify and on Fox digital platforms.
Lolo Jones Launches ‘Gold Medal Loser’ Podcast Through Blue Wire
“Jones is in a very small group of people who have competed in both the Summer and Winter Olympics.”
Podcasting company Blue Wire is continuing to expand. Summer and Winter Olympian Lolo Jones will be hosting the company’s latest podcast Gold Medal Loser. The podcast consists of interviews Jones recorded this summer while training for the 2022 Beijing Olympics, including Olympic skater Adam Rippon, Peleton instructor Jess Sims and former NBA player/current ESPN analyst Richard Jefferson walking Jones through the ups and downs of their careers.
“I’ve always been a huge fan of podcasts and have been interested in creating my own,” Lolo Jones told Awful Announcing via email. “As an athlete, I’m usually the interviewee and wanted to have some fun on the other side of the table. We thought it would be cool to interview folks from different walks of life—including a big focus on Olympians and Paralympians. I’m always fascinated about the different personal journeys all these talented people have taken to get to the top.”
Jones said Blue Wire proved to be a great fit for her to launch this podcast.
“They let me really control the creative direction and shape the show how I envisioned it—but I’m still new at this platform so I leaned on them for insight on how to make this a success.”
This isn’t Jones’ first rodeo when it comes to sports media either. She co-hosted a female-athlete-focused show with MJ Acosta and Lindsay Czarniak for Peacock called On Her Turf during the Tokyo Olympics. She also plans to work in media more frequently once her career ends. Roles like this while she’s still training offer more experience for her.
She said that can be tough to fit in while still competing though, especially in two different sports.
“I’ve tried to capitalize on any breaks I’ve had to get media experience…whether it be due to injury, competition seasons canceled from COVID, or any other extended windows where my training schedule is a little light.”
Jones is in a very small group of people who have competed in both the Summer and Winter Olympics. The list sits at 170 all-time. Elevn of them have represented the U.S.
Gold Medal Loser continues the long list of podcasts Blue Wire has done with professional athletes. It also continues the company’s approach of monetizing podcasts through cross-platform presenting sponsorships; this will be the fifth one they’ve done that way, and the second with Discover. Lolo Jones said she’s excited for people to get to listen to it and hopes it will be relevant to a wide range of listeners.
“Nobody has an easy or straight path to get to the top of our fields. Hopefully hearing about these life experiences will help the listener in some way. If you know me (or follow me on social), you know I’m always trying to do one of two things: inspire you or make you laugh. Hopefully this does both!”
The Athletic, NY Times Eye Woj, Adam Schefter
“Caesars Sportsbook could also make a play at those two, in addition to Shams Charania, who already writes for The Athletic and is an NBA insider and analyst for Stadium Sports.”
The New York Times recently announced its acquisition of The Athletic, and there are many questions surrounding the future of the ad-free online sports publication.
One of those questions surrounds the future of its staff. While it seems like cuts will be inevitable in the future, Front Office Sports reported the publication has stated an interest in some heavy-hitting insiders due to hit the free-agent market soon.
ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter and NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski are the two main talents that The Athletic/New York Times are reportedly targeting. Front Office Sports did cite sources saying ESPN has an exclusive negotiating window to keep the two, and the network reportedly has the right to match outside offers.
Caesars Sportsbook could also make a play at those two, in addition to Shams Charania, who already writes for The Athletic and is an NBA insider and analyst for Stadium Sports.
Caesars and other gambling platforms like FanDuel and DraftKings all have aspirations of becoming sports media entities themselves. Caesars already has Kenny Mayne and Trey Wingo, FanDuel has an exclusive partnership with Pat McAfee, and DraftKings picked up Dan Le Betard.
The Front Office Sports report did mention that The Athletic was operating at a loss, so perhaps targeting talent like Schefter and Wojnarowski, who already reportedly earn somewhere in the $2-3 million per year range, may not make the most sense.
Only time will tell. There’s just a lot of question marks right now.
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