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Marlins Make a Statement With New Analyst Hires

Jason Barrett

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FOX Sports Florida, the statewide television home of the Miami Marlins, on Friday announced Eduardo Perez, Preston Wilson and Al Leiter have joined its roster of Marlins on-air talent for the 2016 season. In their new roles, the trio will alternate as color analysts for Marlins games on FOX Sports Florida, alongside play-by-play announcer Rich Waltz returning for his 12th year in the broadcast booth.

“We are thrilled to have Eduardo Perez and Al Leiter join Preston on our Marlins broadcast team this upcoming season,” said FOX Sports Florida SVP / General Manager Steve Tello. “These three former Marlins will take turns providing their baseball expertise and unique perspectives for fans tuning in throughout Florida. Together, these new voices for our broadcast compliment what is shaping up to be a very exciting year for the Marlins.”

Currently, Eduardo Perez works on ESPN as a Baseball Tonight studio analyst and was recently named to the Monday Night Baseball team beginning for the 2016 season. He also appears on Béisbol Esta Noche on ESPN Deportes. Perez was previously an analyst at ESPN from 2006 through 2010. Perez spent 13 seasons (1993-2006) in the Major Leagues, primarily as a first baseman, for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, Tampa Bay Rays, Cleveland Indians and Seattle Mariners. He also served as bench coach of the Houston Astros (2013) and hitting coach of the Miami Marlins (2011-12). Perez was drafted in the first round by the Angels in 1991 after leading the Florida State University Seminoles to the College World Series that same season. His father, Tony Perez, is a Baseball Hall of Famer.

Preston Wilson enters his fifth season with the FOX Sports Florida broadcast team, adding color analyst to his previous role of pre-, in- and post-game analyst, after enjoying a nine year MLB career. Wilson was drafted by the New York Mets in the first round of the 1992 Amateur draft and made his MLB debut in May of 1998. Just two weeks after joining the Mets, he was traded to the Florida Marlins. As a rookie centerfielder, Wilson led the team in home runs and runs batted in. He finished second place in the NL Rookie of the Year balloting. The following season (1999) Wilson joined the 30-30-club, slugging 31 home runs and stealing 36 bases. He went on to win a World Series ring in 2006 as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Al Leiter is entering his 11th year as a color analyst for the New York Yankees on The YES Network. A 19-year MLB veteran, Leiter was drafted by the New York Yankees in 1984 and made his major league debut with the team in September 1987. Throughout his career, he played for the Yankees, 1987-89, and 2005; Toronto Blue Jays, 1989-95; Florida Marlins, 1996-97, and 2005; and New York Mets, 1998-2004. He won World Series rings with the Blue Jays (1993) and the Marlins (2000). Over his career, he went 162-132 and sported a lifetime ERA of 3.80. He was named a National League All-Star in 1996 and 2000 and was the first pitcher to earn a victory against all 30 major league teams. On May 11, 1996, Leiter threw a no-hitter for the Marlins against the Rockies. It was the first no-hitter by a Marlins pitcher in franchise history.

 

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Charles Barkley Announces He Will Retire From TV After Next Season

“Next year, I am just going to retire after 25 years, and I just wanted to say thank you and I wanted y’all to hear it from me first.”

Barrett Sports Media

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Screenbrad from NBA TV with Charles Barkley
Screengrab: NBA TV

Charles Barkley is not waiting. After voicing his frustration several times with the way the media rights negotiations have been handled by his current employer, Warner Bros. Discovery/TNT, Barkley is no longer waiting for them to make a decision, he has announced his own decision.

After Game 4 of the NBA Finals concluded between the Dallas Mavericks and the Boston Celtics, Barkley took time on the postgame show on NBA TV to announce no matter what happens, he will retire as an NBA commentator after next season, which will be his 25th with TNT.

“I’ve been thinking guys,” Barkley said “I want to say this, because you guys are my family. I really love TNT, all the people who work here, NBA Television. You guys have been great to me for 24 years and I just want to say thank you to my entire NBA family. I love you guys.

“There’s been a lot of noise the last few months and I just want to say, I’ve talked to all of the other networks, but I ain’t going nowhere other than TNT, but I have made the decision myself, no matter what happens, next year is going to be my last year on television. And I just want to say thank you to my NBA family, you guys have been great to me, my heart is full with joy and gratitude.

“But I am going to pass the baton at the end of next year. I hope the NBA stays with TNT, but for me personally, I wanted you guys to hear it from me, because I am not doing any more interviews, don’t y’all be calling me, nobody calling me, I am not talking about this again. But I wanted to tell my NBA TV and TNT family that I am not going to another network, but I am going to pass the baton to either Jamal Crawford, Vince Carter or you Steve [Smith]. Next year, I am just going to retire after 25 years, and I just wanted to say thank you and I wanted y’all to hear it from me first.”

The NBA’s current media rights agreements with Disney/ESPN and WBD/TNT expire after next season. Many reports have said the NBA will soon sign agreements with Disney, NBCUniversal and Amazon to be the league’s new broadcasting partners beginning with the 2025-26 season. The Wall Street Journal has reported the total value of the new media rights packages is expected to be $76 billion over 11 years.

Rumors of a possible fourth media package being made in order for the NBA to keep its 40-year relationship with Turner Sports going have surfaced, but it looks like either way there will be changes coming to Inside the NBA, the award-winning show Barkley is a part of along with Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal.

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FOX Sports Moving UFL Games to Friday Nights in 2025

“The regular season average television audience of 816,000 was more than 30% higher than the pace from the previous year.”

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FOX Sports CEO Eric Shanks recently confirmed a report from Deadline last month that said United Football League games would move to Friday nights in 2025. The Deadline report had said FOX planned to replace WWE Smackdown with sports coverage from college football and basketball as well as games from the UFL.

Shanks’ comments were made during a Zoom with reporters about the news of their new agreement with the NTT IndyCar Series. SI’s Mike Mitchell reported that the UFL worked with FOX to move the games so they could complete their auto racing deal.

Shanks said many of FOX’s UFL games would be moved to Friday night when asked about the change but did not provide more detail.

The UFL was split between FOX and ABC/ESPN this season. The regular season average television audience of 816,000 was more than 30% higher than the pace from the previous year and the recent conference championship games were up 57% over the averages from the USFL and XFL last season. According to Mitchell, the league saw a large increase in the 18-49 demographic on FOX compared to USFL programming in 2023.

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Report: WNBA Could Quadruple Media Rights Fees

Under the current structure, the WNBA makes a reported $60 million annually from its media rights deals with The Walt Disney Company, Amazon’s Prime Video, CBS and Ion.

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(Illustration) | Courtesy: Women's National Basketball Association

The NBA is reportedly in the process of formalizing new media rights deals with The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal and Amazon’s Prime Video expected to be worth a collective $76 billion over the course of the deal. At the same time, the NBA is also negotiating media rights for the WNBA in which it has an ownership stake of approximately 60%. The WNBA could quadruple its annual media rights fee within these negotiations, according to a new report from Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports.

Under the current structure, the WNBA makes a reported $60 million annually from its media rights deals with The Walt Disney Company, Amazon’s Prime Video, CBS and Ion. Throughout the season thus far, the WNBA has seen its ratings increase, drawing more than 1 million viewers across several matchups throughout the regular season. Moreover, discussion surrounding the league is further assimilating into the sports vernacular surrounding stars such as Caitlin Clark, A’ja Wilson, Sabrina Ionescu and Breanna Stewart.

Ben Strauss of The Washington Post outlined how the NBA is in the process of considering one total bid from media companies that combines the value of media rights for the NBA and WNBA. With the league itself determining the value of media rights for the WNBA, he argues that it could either be “rocket fuel” for the league or that its augmented popularity “is more of an afterthought.” The possibility exists that it could be a combination of both extremes as well, but by having the league negotiate its media rights deal, quantifying the true value could be a more difficult task.

In a report from earlier in the year, McCarthy stated that the WNBA is likely to negotiate its own separate media rights deal if it is not receiving the remuneration that it wants. The WNBA attained its most-watched opening month in league history, averaging 1.32 million viewers for games across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, CBS, Ion and NBA TV. Moreover, the league had its most-attended opening month in its 26-year history with 400,000 fans at games through the end of May and a rise in sales of WNBA-branded merchandise by 236% year-over-year.

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