Opening Day in baseball is Thursday afternoon and baseball fans are hoping this is the year for their favorite team. However, baseball does have some issues that do need to be addressed as it heads into a new season.
On The Colin Cowherd Podcast this week, Cowherd was joined by former NBC broadcaster and now at MLB Network, the legendary Bob Costas, to talk about the past and the current state of the game.
Cowherd began the podcast by talking about the 3 things he would change about the game, which would be to ban defensive shifts, lowering the mound, and shortening the season due to the lack of urgency.
One of the issues that Cowherd brought up that baseball has was whether or not it would be able to challenge the NFL in terms of its popularity in the media. While the baseball pool is talented with international players, it is complex, Cowherd argues, while football is domestic, simple, and linear. Costas didn’t think it was a factor, but brought up that football is only once a week and it has lost the pace of play that it used to have.
“Baseball’s advantage when it had the appropriate leisurely pace was it had no clock,” Costas said. “When the Yankees and Pirates played Game 7 in 1960, the score of the game was 10-9. It took 2 hours, 36 minutes for a 9-inning game. The Yankees played Cleveland in an early playoff game last year. That game took 5 hours, the same score for a 9-inning game. Nobody is saying you should go back 60 years, but there has to be a happy medium between those two things.”
As for the NBA, Costas says current media deals have affected the way some fans view LeBron James and other current superstars compared to players of the past.
“What basketball has done, essentially, the NBA is a cable sport. Even when you watch the games on ABC as good as Mike Breen is as a play-by-play man, you think this is the same thing you just watched on ESPN. It doesn’t feel as big (not Mike’s faul, he’s a terrific announcer).
“Because it is a cable sport, that’s part of the reason to the casual person LeBron may be equally excellent, but nowhere he is as remotely impactful in popular culture (compared to Michael Jordan). Little old ladies from Omaha wanted to watch Michael Jordan. The promos for the game were on ER, The Today Show. It was central to what was going on. Football maintains that centrality whereas hockey, baseball, and basketball on a national basis are essentially cable sports.”
While baseball is back and a new season begins, the interview with Cowherd and Costas is a reminder there are plenty of ways in which baseball is behind football and has a tall task in challenging the NFL in the era of social media.
Poll Data Shows Tepid Response To Tom Brady Joining FOX
“A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.”
FOX Sports reportedly signed Tom Brady to a 10-year deal worth $375 million to make the seven-time Super Bowl champion the new lead analyst for its top NFL broadcast once his playing career is over.
A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.
The poll said 2 in 5 NFL fans have a better opinion of FOX Sports following the deal, with 41% of NFL fans being at least somewhat more likely to watch a game with Brady as an analyst.
Data shows one-third of NFL fans think the deal Brady reportedly agreed to is worth about the same as its reported value.
That reaction could probably be described as “tepid”. That may be exactly what FOX expects and maybe all it wants.
Last week, Domonique Foxworth of ESPN suggested that the paycheck is less about what the network thinks Tom Brady means to viewers and more about showing the NFL that the network values its product.
FOX Not Interested In Joining Streaming Sports Wars
“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take?”
The CEO of FOX doesn’t plan on forking over billions of dollars to be people’s last choice for paid streaming services.
Lachlan Murdoch said at a time when more than 80% of American homes already have some kind of paid streaming service, it’s not worthwhile to jump on that train.
Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ typically account for the average streaming presence in a household.
“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take,” Murdoch said at a tech conference earlier this year. “And so the billions of dollars that’s being spent by multiple aspirants is all for that last position. And so we are extraordinarily — I want to say that — we’re happy to be sort of sitting on the sidelines.”
Murdoch told Benjamin Swinburne that when it comes to the NFL, FOX’s media rights are the same as CBS, NBC and ESPN. The main focus for the company remains on keeping games on TV.
“We don’t believe it helps us to put those rights under a streaming service or free on over-the-air. We think it’s very important that those rights remain exclusive to the broadcast environment,” Murdoch said.
FOX does stream games through its app, but it is only the games it is also carrying on its broadcast network or FS1.
NBA Draft To Get Simulcast From ESPN & ABC
“This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.”
ESPN is set for the 2022 NBA Draft coming up on June 23 at 8 p.m. from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The network announced Wednesday the crews that will handle coverage on both ESPN and ABC.
ABC will broadcast the first round in primetime. Kevin Negandhi will host and will be joined by Stephen A. Smith, Chiney Ogwumike and Jalen Rose. Monica McNutt will be reporting and interviewing draftees.
This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.
Malika Andrews will host both rounds for ESPN. Jay Bilas, Kendrick Perkins and Adrian Wojnarowski will share the set. Analysts Bobby Marks and Mike Schmitz will contribute.
“We’re thrilled that Malika Andrews will host this year’s ESPN presentation as she brings her well-documented, widespread skillset to our main set,” said David Roberts, head of NBA and Studio Production for ESPN. “The event will showcase the scope and depth of our NBA and college basketball talent roster with accomplished journalists and high-profile personalities across ESPN, ABC and ESPN Radio.”
ESPN will air a pre-draft red carpet show hosted by Cassidy Hubbarth from 5-6 p.m. Perkins and Richard Jefferson will also make appearances.