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Alex Rodriguez Ready For Another MLB Season on ESPN

The retired MLB-player is entering his fourth season calling games for ESPN.

Russ Heltman

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The 2021 MLB season has arrived, and with it comes another stint in the Sunday Night Baseball booth for Alex Rodriguez. The businessman and retired player is approaching a half-decade broadcasting baseball. On Wednesday, AROD shared a few thoughts on the 2021 season and reflected on his time broadcasting baseball games.

Joining Rodriguez on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball is play-by-play voice Matt Vasgersian and Senior MLB Insider Buster Olney. Being part of that trio of experienced and talented broadcasters is what keeps Rodriguez feeling good about the network’s presentation for baseball fans.

“My chemistry with Matt is getting better and better,” Rodriguez said. “We spoke already this morning, and Buster Olney is as good as it gets. I’m surrounded by great talent.”

One thing Rodriguez has learned after three years behind the microphone is a comfortability with his own talent. 

“One of the greatest guys that I’ve ever seen in my career over the last 25 years has been Joe Buck, and I think he’s the greatest, and he gets a hard time,” Rodriguez added. “It’s a business that you’re never going to get everybody’s thumbs-up.”

Broadcasting is “just like playing baseball” for Rodriguez, who tried to purchase the New York Mets in the offseason. “We gave it a great run, and the Mets are a fantastic franchise with a great fan base, and I think the ownership is going to do a fantastic job,” Rodriguez said. “I also think they have very much a competitive advantage — when you have 29 teams that have been bleeding, and you have one owner that’s coming in hot and ready to win a World Championship, I think there’s an immense competitive advantage.”

Rodriguez praised MLB for its experimentation with mic’ing up players on the field, noting some conversations he had during playing days in between the lines would’ve made for great content. There’s been a great response to that side of the broadcast and it’s seen as a positive way to welcome a younger generation of fans to the game. 

“I want to see them (players) driving home and coming to the stadium,” Rodriguez said. “The more, the better.”

Rodriguez is on the call for New York Mets vs. Washington Nationals at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday, April 1. He’ll be part of ESPN’s Opening Day quadruple-header working with Matt Vasgersian and Buster Olney.

Sports TV News

The NFL Still Considering Multiple Offers For Sunday Ticket

The NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has not bid for the package but has stated it is willing to partner with the new rightsholder for a potential deal.

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Sunday Ticket Negotiations

DirecTV currently has the rights to Sunday Ticket. That deal expires at the end of this upcoming football season. The NFL is expected to make a boatload of cash when they decide which media organization gets the next rights to the package. The only question is… who will that be?

Alex Sherman of CNBC reports that the NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has decided not bid for the package. However, they are interested in partnering with the new rightsholder for a potential deal. DirecTV knows that Sunday Ticket is a staple in bars and restaurants and is interested in maintaining those relationships.

Outside of the bar/restaurant industry, success has been limited for the satellite provider with the football package. Fewer than two million subscribers signed up for Sunday Ticket each year which made the package a money-loser for the satellite TV provider.

According to the report, the NFL wants more than $2 billion for the rights and a stake in NFL Media, which is being packaged with Sunday Ticket. Also on the table is the NFL’s mobile rights. The league’s previous mobile agreement with Verizon has ended.

An interesting piece of the negotiations is Sunday Ticket price. According to the report, a buyer would have limited flexibility on pricing. The NFL signed contracts with CBS and Fox and within the framework of those deals, language mandates Sunday Ticket have a premium price. That’s to prevent loss of viewers from the networks that feature local market Sunday afternoon games. So essentially, the price is the price for the consumer.

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Sports TV News

F1 Renews With ESPN For U.S. Media Rights

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

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F1 ESPN

The racing series F1 has decided to stick with ESPN through 2025.

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

The reported value of the three-year contract is set to pay F1 $75-90M per year for the U.S. media rights. Amazon had offered to pay roughly $100M per year, with the right to sublicense to a linear broadcast network. Comcast’s offer was similar to ESPN’s in terms of value and the structure. They also wanted to put select races on it’s streaming service, Peacock.

Netflix was in on the negotiations, as well. The makers of Drive to Survive, the streaming series that many credit with the sport’s explosion in popularity in recent years, wasn’t close on on their financial offer. Also, it seems F1 executives were not ready to put all of its races on a streaming service just yet.

Currently, F1 receives $5M per year for ESPN to broadcast it’s races. ESPN has grabbed about 1.0 million viewers per race. That makes F1 a more than viable option for the network to invest into again. ESPN will be able to put a small number of races on its ESPN+ streaming service exclusively. The vast majority being on ABC or ESPN.

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Skip Bayless Says He And Stephen A. Smith ‘Sorted Out’ Their Disagreement

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

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Skip Bayless

Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless were locked in a war of words last week following the First Take host’s appearance on JJ Redick’s Old Man and the Three podcast.

The origins of their partnership were discussed and Bayless admitted he did not like the way Smith characterized the state of First Take before he arrived on set. Smith insisted that Bayless simply misunderstood what he meant by saying that he was told the show needed him.

Over the weekend, Skip Bayless says he and Stephen A. Smith got together at the Bayless home in California to talk things out in private.

“He was in LA, he came over, we sat by the pool,” he said on the latest episode of The Skip Bayless Show. “It wasn’t the easiest conversation for a while, but we slowly but surely sorted it out. We got through it, and we have been through so much together.”

Bayless reiterated that he considers Smith a brother. They love each other. That doesn’t mean they are always going to remember events the same way or see eye-to-eye all the time.

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

Fighting doesn’t mean the relationship is fractured. In fact, Skip Bayless was adamant that he remains closer to Smith than he is to most people in his life.

“I don’t trust easily because of the way I was raised, but I do trust Stephen Anthony Smith. Trust him with my life. Always have and always will. I trust he will always be there for me, and you better believe I will always be there for him.”

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