The 2021 Home Run Derby was a grand slam for ESPN. According to Nielsen, the T-Mobile Home Run Derby on ESPN and ESPN2 was the most-watched since 2017 when 8.35 million fans tuned in. An average viewership of 7.1 million watched Pete Alonso of the New York Mets become the third player ever to win the event back-to-back times on Monday night.
Viewership reached a peak level at 8.69 million between 9:30-9:45 p.m. ET.
The main ESPN channel carried 6,358,000 viewers, up 19% from 2019, while ESPN2’s “Statcast” version of the event drew in 767,000 viewers, a 10% decrease from 2019.
According to Sports Media Watch, the 2021 Home Run Derby is the most-watched ESPN telecast since the College Football Playoff National Championship in January. The Home Run Derby barely edged out this year’s European Championship final between England and Italy, which averaged 6.49 million viewers.
When comparing all-star events, it was another big win for Major League Baseball after the NBA’s one-night-only event drew 5.94 million average viewers in March. Normally, the Derby would be compared to the skills night of NBA All-Star Weekend, but the league chose to hold the Slam Dunk Contest at halftime this year. No other major league has held an All-Star Game since the pandemic began.
It was a big win for ESPN’s second year broadcasting the MLB Draft as well. The first round got rolling Sunday night just before the start of Game 3 in the NBA Finals. It was the most-watched first-round ever on the network. ESPN’s coverage generated an average audience of 781,000 viewers, up 77% from 2020, the first year ESPN broadcasted the event.
MLB Network and ESPN split the duties last year and combined to draw in 1.03 million viewers in 2020. As the pandemic slowly starts to subside, executives are seeing some events eclipse 2019 ratings.
Greg Olsen To Partner With Kevin Burkhardt For Super Bowl LVII
“Last season was the first Burkhardt and Olsen worked together. They largely won rave reviews.”
The deal isn’t done yet, but Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reports that Greg Olsen is on his way to joining Kevin Burkhardt in the top NFL booth at FOX. Although Tom Brady will take over that role after he retires and leaves the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Olsen will spend at least this season on FOX’s A-Team.
Last season was the first Burkhardt and Olsen worked together. They largely won rave reviews.
Earlier this year, the former Panther told The Mac Attack on WFNZ in Charlotte that he was disappointed he didn’t get to call a postseason game. He will more than make up for that in 2023. As Burkhardt’s partner, Olsen is in line to be the analyst for Super Bowl LVII.
Marchand writes that we could get a taste of what is to come in February. He speculates that if the Buccaneers are not in the Super Bowl, it is possible Tom Brady could make his FOX debut, either in the booth alongside Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen or as part of the network’s studio show.
Now, FOX has to make a decision about it’s number 2 NFL booth. According to Marchand, Drew Brees is a candidate to be the analyst. Adam Amin and Joe Davis have emerged as candidates for the play-by-play role.
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.