In the media industry, sometimes you just never know where your big break is going to come from. For current FOX Sports MLB analyst Ben Verlander, it was Twitch that helped him gain his big break in the business.
Verlander, who is the younger brother of Astros pitcher Justin Verlander, played in the Detroit Tigers organization for four years (2014-2017). While in the minor leagues, his love of playing video games would eventually lead to helping him in a future career.
This week, Verlander was on the Straight Fire with Jason McIntyre podcast and told the story of how playing MLB The Show led to the career he has right now.
“When I played baseball, we played 140 games in 150 days. The only way you get through it is a schedule. I’m at the field from noon-11 PM, midnight. You can’t just go home after playing a 9-inning game and go to sleep. What I would find myself doing is going home, sitting on my couch, playing video games for a couple of hours before I went to bed, so I got really good at The Show.”
Ben Verlander says that he was better at baseball video games than he was at actual baseball. As the Covid-19 pandemic began in the US, and it became clear there would be no minor league season, a roommate suggested Verlander put his gaming on Twitch.
“I started doing it and immediately loved it and started building this community of people that clearly cares about me, about what I have to say, and it just becomes this community of people. Still to this day, I try to stream every weekday. I truly believe being on Twitch helped me,” replied Verlander.
Being on Twitch led to Verlander eventually getting a chance to meet the Vice President of Digital Content for FOX, Michael Bucklin. That meeting led to a World Series party that Verlander hosted.
“I’m on a camera, I have 20,50,100,500 people watching me, asking questions. I’m talking back to them. I’m entertaining them and I truly believed that helped me,” said Verlander about Twitch helping him get to where he is today.
This past week, Verlander was in Colorado for the MLB All-Star Game and he even got to interview Shohei Ohtani.
Verlander’s path to go from minor league baseball to now working as an analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the Flippin’ Bats podcast shows you never know where your big break is going to come from. Even streaming yourself playing video games can lead to something great.
Erin Dolan Returns To ESPN As Sports Betting Analyst
Dolan will contribute sports betting content across a variety of programs and platforms.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek recently said that the company has found there is a broader acceptance of sports betting among the general public, and now they are ramping up their sports betting personalities at the company with a familiar face.
ESPN has reached a multi-year contract with sports betting analyst Erin Dolan. Dolan had a previous stint with the company in 2017, and is set to return as a sports betting analyst for her former employer.
Erin Dolan took to social media to express her excitement for her second stint at the company.
She will contribute sports betting content across a variety of programs and platforms. She will be a regular on daily sports betting news and information programs, Daily Wager, ESPN Bet and the Daily Wager podcast, among others. She is set to make her debut this week on Daily Wager.
Prior to rejoining ESPN, Erin Dolan was on-air talent at FanDuel and PointsBet, creating sports betting content across their social channels and various programming.
She also co-hosted a weekly YouTube and Twitch show, “Girls Who Bet,” was part of B/R Betting’s, “The Group Chat,” and hosted “The Early Line” weekdays from 7-9 a.m. ET on SiriusXM.
“During the time I was in college and an active ESPN intern, sports betting was not a career path a broadcast professional would even think of pursuing. It was just too niche,” Erin Dolan said.
“Fast forward more than four years later, sports betting content is exploding and I am entering the doors of ESPN once again, but this time as a sports betting analyst. I am thrilled that I get the opportunity to grow my career at ESPN and I am so grateful they are betting on me.”
2021 Most-Watched College Football Season Ever For FOX
“And with the advent of streaming, FOX is seeing gains there too..”
FOX Sports has been a college football broadcast rights holder going on 15 years now. In recent years, it seems like the network has really hit its stride in terms of programming, getting fans and viewers ready for its slate of games dubbed “Big Noon Saturday.”
In 2019, the network began an effort to essentially compete with ESPN staple College GameDay by debuting its own pre-game show named Big Noon Kickoff.
FOX Sports on Wednesday reported that the efforts to make its college football pre-game show appointment programming have been paying off.
Big Noon Kickoff averaged 1.383 million viewers in 2021, which the network says is up 15% over its debut season in 2019.
In terms of game viewership, FOX says its broadcast window is also up double digits, 13%, from 2019. The network reports 2021 is its most-watched regular season ever, averaging almost 4 million viewers.
And with the advent of streaming, FOX is seeing gains there too. A sign college football fans everywhere are embracing the product the network is putting together each season.
Duke and Gonzaga Turn In Big Ratings For ESPN
“An average audience of 2.79 million tuned in to see the game.”
Conventional wisdom says that it isn’t basketball or hockey season until football is over. That is probably still true, but on Friday night ESPN proved that if you get big name programs with some star power together, college basketball can hang any time of the year.
Duke’s win over Gonzaga brought more eyeballs to ESPN’s coverage of early-season college basketball since 2018. An average audience of 2.79 million tuned in to see the game. That is the largest audience for a college basketball game played before New Year’s Day since the same two teams met in the finals of the Maui Invitational three years ago and drew 2.85 million viewers.
The real win is that the game outrated a college football game on the same night. ESPN’s coverage of NC State’s win over North Carolina only drew 2.68 million viewers. It is an added bonus that Duke can hold over their Tobacco Road rivals.
Before the game, Duke was ranked #5 and Gonzaga was ranked #1. After, Duke rose to #1. Since then, the Blue Devils fell to Ohio State and likely will drop in next week’s rankings. Still, every Duke game this season will come with a little extra attention. This is the final season with the legendary Mike Krzyzewski on the Duke bench.
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