Amid a period of skepticism and uncertainty across Major League Baseball, ESPN continues to look forward to the conclusion of the lockout, which it hopes leads to the start of the 2022 MLB regular season. The network recently announced a new Sunday Night Baseball booth with play-by-play announcer Karl Ravech and analysts David Cone and Eduardo Pérez, a trio it believes will fit the current landscape of baseball in the digital age.
“I think that the beauty of this team, in short, is [to be] able to embrace the traditional aspects of Major League Baseball and mix in the more modern aspects, whether that be analytics or something else,” said ESPN Senior Vice President of Production and Remote Operations Mark Gross.
Balancing traditional and modern aspects of the game is critical for Cone, who still intends to broadcast 50 games this season as a part of New York Yankees baseball on the YES Network. The importance of emphasizing and embracing the game today, rather than solely reflecting on what the game was like when he and Pérez played, is something he believes will enhance the broadcast for its viewing audience.
“In a lot of the baseball broadcasts around the country, you hear a lot of: ‘Yeah, the game was better back when I played.’ That’s not the case here,” Cone explained. “You’re going to see us genuinely get excited about today’s game at a time when that’s really needed on a national broadcast.”
Despite criticism regarding the previous Sunday Night Baseball booth not talking about the game enough, Ravech believes there is a place for the conversational nature of broadcasting in the evolving digital age. Talking about subjects not related to baseball, though, is something dictated by the action on the field and the rapport of the booth.
“I tend to be real dependent and reliant on my analysts,” said Ravech, who has been with ESPN since 1993. “I’m not an ‘I’ or ‘me’ guy – I’m a ‘we’ guy – and this group of three is what [will make] this succeed… The chemistry aspect of [the booth] is the last part of my concern. This will be a group that gets along really well, and [I hope] it will show.”
Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN will return for the 2022 regular season and telecast 25 games, along with other exclusive games throughout the season, including MLB Opening Night. Additionally, ESPN will also debut a new alternate presentation titled Kay-Rod, which will discuss the game each week, along with special guest appearances and on-air integrations of analytics and fantasy baseball.
Shannon Sharpe Apologizes to Richard Jefferson for Calling Him Lazy
FS1’s Shannon Sharpe took to social media to clear the air between him and ESPN’s Richard Jefferson over some comments Sharpe made about the former NBA champion.
Sharpe said Jefferson was lazy for only wanting to talk about basketball. Jefferson is an NBA analyst for ESPN and doesn’t normally appear on debate shows or provide analysis on other sports.
“There is not a person in this industry since I have retired that would ever refer to my work ethic as being lazy,” Jefferson said in a response video on his TikTok. “So as long as you live don’t ever do that again or this conversation is gonna be much different.”
Sharpe saw the video and apologized saying his assessment of Jefferson was lazy.
“I want to apologize, I come to you as a man, Rich, and apologize to you for my take on what you said,” he said.
Much like Jefferson did, Sharpe then went on to break down the differences between hosts on debate shows who have to watch and study various different sports and analysts like Jefferson who only specialize in analyzing one sport.
But ultimately Sharpe wanted to bury the hatchet and make it clear to the internet that there’s no problems between the two.
“Richard and I do not have a beef,” Sharpe said. “There is nothing going on, and this is my last time addressing this issue.”
Jefferson tweeted on Saturday accepting Shannon’s apology.
Media Rights Deals are Recession-Proof, Benefit from Longer Terms
As recently as last week, Apple and Major League Soccer agreed to a $2.5 billion deal. The NFL is mulling billion-dollar deals for just about everything, most recently the NFL Sunday Ticket package which will leave DirecTV after this year
The U.S. economy may be in the “worry” phase about an upcoming recession, but if recent television deals are any indication, sports leagues are not. Media rights deals continue to skyrocket despite all of other financial indicators showing that people, businesses are currently struggling.
As recently as last week, Apple and Major League Soccer agreed to a $2.5 billion deal. The NFL is mulling billion-dollar deals for just about everything, most recently the NFL Sunday Ticket package which will leave DirecTV after this year. Those are just a couple of examples of the massive figures that seem to run counter what the average person is dealing with.
Media rights seem to be unharmed by overall macroeconomic environment. It’s interesting to look at why.
One of the main reasons seems to be scarcity. There are only so many NFLs in the world. The number might be one. If you have those media rights, you have access to a multitude of cashflow. It’s important to have the product that people want. Since people will not stop wanting their sports, it’s important to have live sports.
Also, fan participation isn’t one that seems to dwindle, overall, even in a pandemic or financial crunch. Fans care about their team, sport and the league they are in. That kind of fervor for a product makes payment to them or to whomever owns their rights to see them, a foregone conclusion.
A huge reason, also, for the value of a franchise and/or media rights deal to be largely unharmed by current economic climates is their length. Those rights are structured to be long-term and hopefully weather whatever financial crisis may be on the horizon in a hope that it is temporary.
NBA Sees Over $800 Million in Advertising Revenue for 2022 Playoffs
Data shows league ad sales for both Disney and Turner Sports, the NBA’s two national TV rights holders, will eclipse $1.3 billion when the playoffs and regular season are factored together.
The NBA and its media partners saw quite a boost in ad revenue over the course of the 2022 playoffs.
Yahoo! cited data from iSpot.tv in a recent report indicating the league saw $842.4 million in revenue for the postseason. That number was up 19% compared to last year and up 54% from 2019.
Data shows league ad sales for both Disney and Turner Sports, the NBA’s two national TV rights holders, will eclipse $1.3 billion when the playoffs and regular season are factored together. The figure makes for a 45% bump from 2020-21 and 39% from 2018-19.
State Farm, AT&T, Google Pixel and Kia Motors were the biggest ad spenders for this season. State Farm spent just over $40 million while AT&T and Google both spent over $30 million.
Despite the television viewership still not climbing back to pre-pandemic levels, the NBA has certainly kept it broadcast partners happy.