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MLB Network Adds Analysts Ruben Amaro Jr., Bo Porter, And Three New Hosts

A.J. Andrews, Kelana Martin, and Siera Santos will host across MLB Network studio programming.

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Soon after adding Alex Avila and Cameron Maybin as studio analysts, MLB Network has announced that five more new faces are joining its on-air roster.

Ruben Amaro Jr., former Philadelphia Phillies general manager and first-base coach with the Boston Red Sox and New York Mets (with whom he was also a special advisor, will be part of the studio analyst rotation. (He’ll also continue with NBC Sports Philadelphia on its Phillies coverage and appear regularly on WIP’s morning show with Angelo Cataldi.)

Also signing on as an analyst is former Houston Astros manager Bo Porter, who previously worked as a coach with the Miami Marlins, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Washington Nationals. He’ll begin on MLB Network’s Grapefruit League coverage beginning March 24. Porter isn’t new to broadcasting, having provided analysis for MLB Network (most recently on the Andre Dawson Classic in February) and MASN’s Nationals coverage.

A.J. Andrews will be the new host of MLB Network’s kids-focused program, Play Ball, taking over for Harold Reynolds. She’ll also continue as a studio analyst for SEC Network and host for BetMGM and PlayersTV. Andrews was a softball star at LSU, where she played in two Women’s College World Series, before playing professionally.

Kelana Martin will be the new regular host of Quick Pitch, MLB Network’s nightly highlights show, along with a variety of other network studio programming. She will also be a host on MLB Big Inning, the live whiparound program for MLB.TV and Apple TV+. Martin joins MLB Network from NBC Sports Bay Area, where she covered the San Francisco 49ers as a senior reporter and hosted 49ers Live.

And Siera Santos will also host across MLB Network studio programming, including Quick Pitch and MLB Big Inning. She was most recently the sports anchor at FOX 10 in Phoenix, and has also anchored at FOX 32 in Chicago and NBC Sports Chicago, where she was a reporter on Chicago White Sox telecasts.

Sports TV News

NFL Considers Ending Pro Bowl Amidst Low Ratings

“Mark Maske of The Washington Post reports the future of the Pro Bowl was discussed on Tuesday during the owners’ meetings in Atlanta.”

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The NFL is obsessed with TV ratings. It isn’t a surprise that the league may not be willing to tolerate the Pro Bowl underperforming for much longer. 

In 2022, the NFL’s all-star game produced it’s lowest ratings in 16 years. Fewer that 7 million people tuned in to watch the game across ABC, ESPN and DisneyXD. 

“The (Pro Bowl) game doesn’t work,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday after the owners’ meeting in Atlanta. “We need to find another way to celebrate the players.”

There are two proposed alternatives that have been reported. The Washington Post says the league is considering launching a seven-on-seven competition. It would not include tackling or full clocks. The other report comes from Ian Rapport of the NFL Network. He says the league is considering hosting a series of skills competitions over the course of what would be branded an all-star week. The NFL has partnered with DirecTV in the past to present similar events during Super Bowl Week. 

No details have emerged or final decisions made. Mark Maske of The Washington Post reports the future of the Pro Bowl was discussed on Tuesday during the owners’ meetings in Atlanta.

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Former Hulu Exec Michael Schneider Hired To Run Bally Sports+

“Schneider previously was VP of brand and content marketing at Hulu, where he had involvement in various marketing efforts for Hulu + Live TV.”

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Sinclair Broadcast Group and Diamond Sports Group have tapped Michael Schneider as the chief operating officer and general manager of Bally Sports+ when it launches this year.

Schneider will oversee the direct-to-consumer platform that will also be the hub for Bally Sports live programming.

Schneider previously was VP of brand and content marketing at Hulu, where he had involvement in various marketing efforts for Hulu + Live TV.

“Throughout his career, Michael has successfully launched and developed DTC streaming and service platforms and created immersive engagement experiences,” said Sinclair COO and president of broadcast Rob Weisbord. “He is a terrific addition to the team as we build out the Bally Sports+ offering, its exclusive content and passionate fan community.”

Even before Hulu, Schneider had a hand in streaming. He was a founding member of the PlayStation Vue launch team.

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Sports TV News

Marquee Sports Network Weighs Streaming Options Outside of Bally Sports+

“Marquee GM Mike McCarthy said to Sports Business Journal there’s no rush, but the network is hopeful they can have something in time for the 2023 season.”

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As Sinclair Broadcast Group prepares to launch Bally Sports+, its direct-to-consumer platform that will be home to Bally Sports live events, the Chicago Cubs are weighing their options for Marquee Sports Network, which the team co-owns with Sinclair.

Despite being under the Sinclair umbrella, Marquee is its own free-standing RSN from the rest of the Bally Sports networks across the country.

Marquee is readily available on a number of cable providers, but the only thing that’s really missing is its own standalone streaming platform for games. Marquee GM Mike McCarthy said to Sports Business Journal there’s no rush, but the network is hopeful they can have something in time for the 2023 season.

“We’re always interested in being on the cutting edge with the ultimate deliverable to our consumer,” McCarthy said. “But there isn’t any contractual clock ticking to make us feel that way. It’s how we’ve approached things from the beginning. Between our two ownership groups, there’s a lot of aggression to get it right. And I think you’ll see something along those lines shortly.”

The TV ratings will always be of top interest for MLB, especially regional ratings. But as the league has worked to embrace more streaming options for games, striking deals with Apple and Peacock for rights this season, it’s all about providing what the fans and viewers want.

“We now have the ability to do so much more, to properly tell the story of a 162-game season,” said Crane Kenney, Chicago Cubs president of business operations. Kenney was instrumental in the launch of Marquee. “We love baseball, we love the game, and we love the opportunity we have to share it with our fans in really deep ways.”

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