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Traina Worried About Where Tiger vs Phil Leads

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Jimmy Traina lead his daily column at SI.com yesterday with some thoughts on the news that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will meet in a one-on-one round of golf over the Tanksgiving weekend. He wasn’t concerned about whether it would be good TV or who would win. Traina was more intrigued by the fact that the match will be available on pay-per-view.

Golf fans can pay to watch the event through their cable or satellite provider or they can stream it on the B/R Live app. The price hasn’t been announced but Traina doesn’t expect it to be insignificant, writing “I highly doubt it’s going to be 99 cents.” And he expects a full on publicity push as we get closer to the event, noting that the hypehas already started with Phil Mickelson joining Twitter to coincide with this week’s announcement.

They’re going to sell this one-on-one battle as a big deal, when in reality, it’s just a useless exhibition. It’s not a major. It’s not a real tournament. However, it stars the most iconic golfer of all time, so you’re being tricked into thinking you’re getting something good. The reality is, it’s just a TV special.

Traina is convinced that it won’t just be the folks at Bleacher Report or cable and satellite providers rooting for the event to succeed. He says that the whole sports media world wants to see the event generate big profits. “If you pay for it, sports media companies are going to be overjoyed because then they know they have an audience who will actually hand over their money to watch stuff like this,” and Traina is worried about where that might lead.

The danger here (and I use that word loosely, because this really isn’t that important in the grand scheme of life) is that this will open the floodgates for sports media outlets to eventually experiment with putting good things on pay-per-view. It’s not going to stop with Tiger-Phil if that’s a success. And I’m not saying you’re going to see an NFL playoff game or the NBA Draft or a college football playoff game on pay-per-view next year or the year after, but if you don’t think the leagues and networks, especially ESPN which just launched a streaming network, have that idea in the back of their heads for down the road, you’re not paying attention.

ESPN+ already has exclusive rights to a number of lower tier college football and basketball games. That service, and others like it, typically offer a lot of content for a lower monthly price ($4.99 in ESPN+’s case). Major boxing and MMA cards can get expensive. The Mayweather/McGregor fight, for instance, cost $99.95 to watch in HD. Would the Tiger and Phil extravaganza be priced similarly? If so, what would that mean football fans would have to pay to watch an NFL playoff game should that league switch to a pay-per-view model in the future?

Count Traina amongst the few sports media professionals encouraging fans to save their money.

At some point the sports fan, as a consumer, has to say no. We get dumped on constantly. Games ending past midnight on the East Coast. A billion commercials during every sporting event. Offensive ticket prices. More offensive concession prices. Even more offensive prices for parking.

Now we’re going to be tested to see which sporting events we’re willing to pay for. If you shell out the money for Tiger-Phil, you’ll be giving sports media companies incentive to take advantage of you again. And again. And again. Just say no.

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MLB at Rickwood Field Game Averages 2.346 Million Viewers on FOX

The telecast of the game peaked with 2.559 million viewers in the quarter-hour spanning from 8:45 to 9 p.m. EST.

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MLB at Rickwood Field Logo
Courtesy: Major League Baseball

The San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals played from Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Ala. on Thursday night, marking the first time that the ballpark hosted a regular-season Major League Baseball game. The historic event paid tribute to the Negro Leagues and the life of Hall of Fame outfielder Willie Mays, who passed away peacefully on Tuesday at the age of 93. FOX Sports broadcast the game and attained its best performance for a Thursday night MLB regular season telecast since September 2022, averaging 2.346 million viewers for the event. Viewership data for the game is provided by Nielsen Media Research and Adobe Analytics.

The telecast of the game peaked with 2.559 million viewers in the quarter-hour spanning from 8:45 to 9 p.m. EST. Compared to last year’s regular season average for MLB telecasts on FOX, the contest was up 25%. Thursday night games on FOX averaged 1.665 million viewers last year, rendering the game from Rickwood Field an increase of 41%. The San Francisco, Calif. designated market area posted a 3.9 rating and 18 share for the game, the best for an MLB telecast on any network in the 2024 season in the area. Additionally, the St. Louis, Mo. designated market area had a 9.4 rating and 29 share for the game, also its best performance for an MLB telecast on any network amid the current season.

The broadcast of the game on FOX Sports featured play-by-play announcer Joe Davis, analyst John Smoltz and reporters Ken Rosenthal and Tom Verducci. During the FOX MLB pregame show, various special guests joined host Kevin Burkhardt and analysts Álex Rodríguez, David Ortiz and Derek Jeter, including Reggie Jackson, Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr. Within the game, Rosenthal interviewed former Birmingham Black Barons pitcher Rev. Bill Greason, along with former Indianapolis Clowns second baseman Reggie Howard. FOX Sports broadcast half an inning of the game in black and white as well, replicating how baseball telecasts looked in 1954.

FOX Sports is currently in the third year of its seven-year media rights deal with Major League Baseball and will broadcast the MLB All-Star Game next month from Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. The network will also present the World Series for the 25th consecutive year this October featuring the American League and National League Champions.

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ESPN Announces Coverage Plans for Inaugural Two-Day NBA Draft

The ESPN team will feature Malika Andrews, Andraya Carter, Jay Bilas and Richard Jefferson. ABC will have Kevin Negandhi hosting alongside Stephen A. Smith and Bob Myers.

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Logo for ESPN and the 2024 NBA Draft

The NBA is set to debut a new format for its draft. Instead of doing both rounds in one night, this year will be the first time the league has used a two-day format with night one coming up on Wednesday, June 26 followed by night two on Thursday June 27. Television coverage will be provided by ESPN and ABC.

On Wednesday, ESPN will begin with NBA Today starting at 3 p.m. ET, which will be hosted by Christine Williamson, Kendrick Perkins, Austin Rivers and CJ McCollum. They will be followed by a Red Carpet Special at 5 p.m. ET with Cassidy Hubbarth, Kendrick Perkins and Richard Jefferson. Coverage of the draft begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN and at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

The ESPN team will feature Malika Andrews, Andraya Carter, Jay Bilas and Richard Jefferson. ABC will have Kevin Negandhi hosting alongside Stephen A. Smith and Bob Myers.

ESPN reporters and insiders Monica McNutt, Adrian Wojnarowski, Bobby Marks and Jonathan Givony are set to appear on both broadcasts.

For Round 2 on Thursday, ESPN will again start with NBA Today at 3 p.m. ET with Christine Williamson, Kendrick Perkins, Austin Rivers and Tim Legler. That will be followed by coverage of the draft beginning at 4 p.m. ET with Malika Andrews, Stephen A. Smith, Bob Myers, Adrian Wojnarowski, Bobby Marks and Jonathan Givony.

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Michael Phelps Joining NBCUniversal Coverage of Olympic Games Paris 2024

“With his ability to analyze and entertain, our viewers are in for another gold-medal performance.”

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Michael Phelps
Courtesy: NBC Olympics & Paralympics on X

Michael Phelps, the 23-time Olympic gold medalist who is the most-decorated Olympic athlete of all time, will be joining NBCUniversal for coverage of the Olympic Games Paris 2024 this summer. Phelps returns to the coverage after being part of the broadcast during the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and will provide his commentary and analysis on prime time and daytime shows in Paris on NBC and Peacock.

Additionally, he will join Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines in the broadcast booth for select swimming competition telecasts from the París La Défense Arena, along with correspondent/analyst Elizabeth Beisel and reporter Melissa Stark. Phelps will return to NBC and Peacock on Friday night broadcasting coverage of the U.S. Olympic Trials-Swimming from Indianapolis, Ind. beginning at 8 p.m. EST/PST.

“We are excited to have Michael return to our coverage across both daytime and primetime, and of course, the place where no one knows more about winning – at the pool,” Molly Solomon, executive producer and president of NBC Olympics Production, said in a statement. “With his ability to analyze and entertain, our viewers are in for another gold-medal performance.”

NBC has been televising coverage throughout the week live in prime time leading up to the Olympic games. The swimming trials are averaging 3.2 million viewers in prime time across NBC and Peacock, which is up 20% from the trials for the Olympic Games three years ago. The event is taking place from Lucas Oil Stadium, the home of the Indianapolis Colts, and has featured accomplished swimmers such as Katie Ledecky, Gretchen Walsh and Regan Smith. Moreover, the prime time broadcast of the diving competition on Monday and Tuesday from Knoxville, Tenn. is averaging 2.9 million viewers, a 39% rise from three years ago.

The International Olympic Committee granted NBCUniversal the U.S. media rights for the Olympic Games through 2032 for $7.65 billion. NBCUniversal has been the exclusive broadcast home of the Summer Olympic Games in the United States since 1988 when it produced 179.5 hours of broadcast coverage. The company is scheduled to broadcast the Olympic Games from Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy in 2026, Los Angeles, Calif. in 2028 and Brisbane, Australia in 2032, along with the 2030 Winter Olympic Games from a location to be determined.

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