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Facebook MLB Viewership Lower Than Expected

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Facebook’s exclusive Major League Baseball broadcasts have been met with a number of unhappy fans who would prefer to watch the game on traditional television. Their first stream of Mets – Phillies during Major League Baseball’s opening week was met with endless complaints of annoying graphics and glitches during the stream. Critics have calmed in the subsequent Facebook broadcasts, but viewership is still lower than expected.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer Facebook’s MLB broadcasts have averaged between 65,000 and 85,000 concurrent viewers through their first three streams of the season. The Philadelphia Inquirer also reported the Royals and Blue Jays garnered 6.8 million global views, which is measured as a viewer who checks into the game for at least three seconds.

As Awful Announcing notes, a divisional game presented exclusively as a national broadcast should attract several hundred thousand viewers, not 65,000. However, national games are never broadcast on a Wednesday afternoon, making it harder to judge what Facebook’s number should be. Last season, in terms of national MLB broadcasts, FOX averaged 2.05 million viewers during their regular season broadcasts and 448,000 for FS1 telecasts.

A linear network would garner an audience larger than Facebook’s 65,000 – 80,000, but a midday telecast during the week would certainly fall short of their weekend numbers. One of Facebook’s selling points is the ability for someone at work to watch the game when they don’t have access to a television. Since Facebook holds exclusive rights, there are no blackout restrictions.

6.8 million global views, even if only for three seconds, appears impressive and shows there’s a larger audience available for Facebook and Major League Baseball to tap into. It’s difficult to judge how many of those views were made with intent, similar to the amount of people that channel surf, scrolling through FOX to get to another network. People will click something they see on Facebook without knowing what it is or having any intention of staying on the page.

6.8 million global views also does not mean 6.8 million different viewers, between my phone and desktop, I clicked in and out of the Mets – Phillies game at least a dozen times during the course of the three hour stream.

Facebook will broadcast a total of 25 games this year, costing them a little more than $1 million per game, totaling between $30 and $35 million for the season. Although Amazon’s Thursday Night Football streaming deal is not exclusive, they spent $4.5 million per game last season and averaged 310,000 viewers. With those numbers, both Amazon and Facebook have spent approximately $14 per viewer.

Both partnerships include other aspects and perks, its value does not come down to only viewership, but $14 per viewer is significantly more than any television network pays for their broadcast rights fees.

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.

Sports TV News

Report: Neil Everett Could Be Next To Leave ESPN

Everett has been working at ESPN since 2000.

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Courtesy: Geoff Turner

The talent exodus at ESPN could thicken soon. Sources have told Front Office Sports that Neil Everett may not return to the network when his contract expires this summer. 

The 59-year-old SportsCenter anchor has manned the late-night edition of ESPN’s flagship program with Stan Verrett since the duo moved to Los Angeles in 2009. The Spokane, Wa. native cut his teeth in Hawaii television news before signing with ESPN in 2000. Now, Everett is caught in the yin and yang of their pandemic hiring practices.

The network has retained talents like Chris Berman, Rece Davis, Michael Eaves, Charly Arnolt, and Tony Reali in recent months, but they’ve lost some big names as well. 

Kenny Mayne said directly to The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch that he was a “salary cap casualty” after leaving ESPN following a 27-year run. Ariel Helwani joined Mayne as the latest powerful name offered less than expected, prompting the MMA journalist to bet on himself and leave the company on June 15 after starting there in 2018.

Those two joined the likes of Dan Le Batard and Mike Golic Sr. as staple ESPN characters that have exited the company since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sources told FOS that ESPN believes some salaries spun out of control, and the financial strain is reeling them in.

These rumors are swirling amidst a new deal for Everett’s partner Stan Verrett. The SportsCenter co-anchor has a fresh multi-year contract with ESPN. Ironically the last time the pair was up for new deals ESPN announced they’re re-signing in the same press release. 

Verrett and Everett are arguably the most popular SportsCenter duo since the 2000s. The pair have built a seamless rapport and even hosted afternoon drive on ESPN Radio together while ESPN was preparing their new lineup last summer. Time will tell if Everett and Verrett can stay together on the late-night SportsCenter for another decade to come.

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Peacock Carrying All Remaining Stanley Cup Semifinal Games

This is the final year of NBC’s rights deal with the NHL.

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Courtesy: Peacock

Cord-cutters rejoice! NBC has announced they are expanding viewing options for the rest of the NHL Stanley Cup Semifinal round. Peacock will now stream all remaining games in this round. NBC is showing the terrestrial TV broadcasts on NBCSN and USA. The changes go into effect immediately with the first streaming telecast airing on Monday at 9 p.m. ET when the Vegas Golden Knights clash with the Montreal Canadiens.

NHL Live is dropping the puck on pregame coverage starting at 8:30 p.m. ET, with Kathryn Tappen hosting studio coverage alongside analysts Anson Carter and Dominic Moore. Play-by-play voice John Forslund is on the call for the souped-up broadcast with analyst Joe Micheletti and ‘Inside-the-Glass’ reporter Pierre McGuire.

The Knights, famous for their elaborate pregame shows, have been a popular draw on cable throughout the 2021 Playoffs. Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand reported that their series-clinching Game 6 win over the Colorado Avalanche averaged 1.27 million viewers on NBCSN. That mark is a 53% improvement from last season but down 3% from Sharks-Avalanche Game 4 in 2019. The Knights triumph was the most-watched Western Conference cable game in these playoffs.

NBC has not announced the same additional streaming options for this year’s Stanley Cup final but they are seemingly trying to maximize every ounce of viewership out of the NHL while they have it. Fans won’t see any players carrying the cup through NBC cameras after these playoffs.

The league is entering a new partnership with Turner and ESPN where one side is more adamant about streaming sports than the other. ESPN is planning on a massive package of streaming games to be available on ESPN+ throughout the deal. Meanwhile, WarnerMedia executive Jeff Zucker was reticent to put NHL games on HBO Max during a press call announcing the new media rights deal.

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Tony Kornheiser: ESPN Will Hand College Football Playoff Money To Go To 12 Teams

Kornheiser blamed his own employer, ESPN, for not acting against the proposal, as reported by The Spun.

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It was announced last week that the College Football Playoff is considering expanding to 12 teams. The news has come with mixed reviews, however, one person who didn’t waver in his stance on the subject is “Pardon the Interruption” co-host Tony Kornheiser.

On the show last week, Kornheiser blamed his own employer, ESPN, for not acting against the proposal, as reported by The Spun.

“Let me tell you who won’t stop them. This network,” said Tony Kornheiser. “College football is a goldmine. And ESPN will line up to hand people money. … This is a goldmine and they’re going to do it.”

Much of the reason for expanding is clearly in the interest of money, but with 12 teams in the playoffs, the move would also add interest among a wider fanbase in the process, per The Spun.

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