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Padres Pursuing Orsillo

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The Red Sox are down to the final 10 games of their season, which means Don Orsillo is down to the final 10 games of his 15-season run as the play-by-play voice of the team on NESN.

The network’s decision to replace the popular Orsillo with Dave O’Brien next season generated extraordinary local backlash when the story broke Aug. 25. Fans are certain to give Orsillo a warm sendoff at Fenway during the disappointing season’s waning days.

But those who aren’t satisfied with the explanation for the decision — team chairman Tom Werner has told other media outlets that the Orsillo-for-O’Brien swap was made to “reenergize” the broadcast — can take solace in an emerging truth.

Career-wise, Orsillo may end up in a sunnier place.

According to sources with knowledge of the situation, the San Diego Padres are aggressively pursuing Orsillo for a significant role with their television broadcast team on Fox Sports San Diego.

Orsillo has spoken with the Padres about a long-term contract that includes an opportunity to broadcast some national games for parent company Fox Sports.

The Padres possibility makes sense. Dick Enberg, a broadcasting legend who currently calls Padres games, is 80 years old and announced Wednesday night that 2016 would be his final season. It’s uncertain how Orsillo would fit in next year if he lands in San Diego, but Enberg already works a reduced schedule — he’ll call in the vicinity of 140 games this year.

Former Red Sox executive Mike Dee is the Padres’ president and CEO. Orsillo has long had Dee’s respect, and Padres owner Ron Fowler is also said to be a fan. The downside to a move to the West Coast is a personal one. Orsillo has two daughters from a previous marriage, and he lives in Smithfield, R.I., now to be close to them.

According to Orsillo’s agent, Brad Blank, other franchises (one is believed to be the Dodgers) have shown interest in hiring the broadcaster. ESPN also has reached out. But the Padres possibility is the clear front-runner. A deal is unlikely to be official until around Oct. 4, when the Red Sox season ends and Orsillo can turn his attention toward considering the possibilities.

“Don has drawn a lot of interest, and San Diego has been incredibly gracious, but there are elements to any deal that still need to be sorted out,” said Blank. “We’re not popping the champagne bottles just yet.”

Credit to the Boston Globe who originally published this article

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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