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Karl Ravech Excited, Nervous To Call KBO Games

“In terms of the quality of play, Ravech says the KBO is not on par with the top league in Japan. By comparison to the American game, Ravech puts the talent in the KBO somewhere between Double-A and Triple-A.”

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“We’re going into this the same way if you’re an English major going into a math exam,” ESPN’s most prominent MLB talking head says when it comes to covering Korean Baseball. Karl Ravech sat down with Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports this week to discuss the challenge of calling games from halfway around the world in the middle of the night.

His hope is that MLB fans take to the Korea Baseball Organization the way they have historically taken to the Little League and College World Series. Fans start out curious and by the end are well-educated.

“By the end of it, you understand who the best players are. You can talk about the best pitchers from Vanderbilt and the best infielders from LSU that literally, three weeks prior to that, the majority of people couldn’t talk about. I’m assuming and hoping that’s what happens here.”

McCarthy asked Ravech what he expects from the atmosphere. One of the KBO’s hallmarks has been the enthusiastic environment around games. Players routinely flip their bats regardless of the outcome of their plate appearances. Cheerleaders dance on top of dugouts.

Can such an environment break through with an American audience if there are no fans in the stands to create the excitement those elements usually would?

“Probably the most unique aspect of Korean baseball is actually the fans. It doesn’t matter if you’re up by six or down by 10. They will do their ritual. They will dance and they will sing. They don’t pay much attention to the scoreboard and let that dictate their energy and enthusiasm. We’ll miss that part of it.”

In terms of the quality of play, Ravech says the KBO is not on par with the top league in Japan. By comparison to the American game, Ravech puts the talent in the KBO somewhere between Double-A and Triple-A.

Baseball’s most outspoken American fans are notoriously stodgy about the game’s “unwritten rules.” Any time a player flips a bat after a big home run, you can log onto social media and see the fun police out in full force demanding that player be drilled in the head in his next at bat for daring to smile.

Ravech says those kind of fans may not like all of the bat flipping they see in the KBO, but it will definitely create conversation about the league and its games.

“Whether it originated in Korea, let’s just say they’ve mastered it. There is a high finish. And the bat never comes back down until it lands on the ground after it’s been thrown. They’re into that very high finish. Bat leaves the hand when they believe they hit a home run. That’s all over YouTube and everywhere else – and it will be part of our telecast tonight. Yes, you’re 100% right to suggest that bat flips are something people will absolutely be talking about.”

On Monday, ESPN announced a deal that would see six KBO games air on ESPN2 every week. Games will be carried in the overnight hours every Tuesday through Sunday with ESPN’s top name baseball talent calling the action from their home studios.

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Poll Data Shows Tepid Response To Tom Brady Joining FOX

“A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.”

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FOX Sports reportedly signed Tom Brady to a 10-year deal worth $375 million to make the seven-time Super Bowl champion the new lead analyst for its top NFL broadcast once his playing career is over.

A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.

The poll said 2 in 5 NFL fans have a better opinion of FOX Sports following the deal, with 41% of NFL fans being at least somewhat more likely to watch a game with Brady as an analyst.

Data shows one-third of NFL fans think the deal Brady reportedly agreed to is worth about the same as its reported value.

That reaction could probably be described as “tepid”. That may be exactly what FOX expects and maybe all it wants.

Last week, Domonique Foxworth of ESPN suggested that the paycheck is less about what the network thinks Tom Brady means to viewers and more about showing the NFL that the network values its product.

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FOX Not Interested In Joining Streaming Sports Wars

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take?”

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The CEO of FOX doesn’t plan on forking over billions of dollars to be people’s last choice for paid streaming services.

Lachlan Murdoch said at a time when more than 80% of American homes already have some kind of paid streaming service, it’s not worthwhile to jump on that train.

Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ typically account for the average streaming presence in a household.

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take,” Murdoch said at a tech conference earlier this year. “And so the billions of dollars that’s being spent by multiple aspirants is all for that last position. And so we are extraordinarily — I want to say that — we’re happy to be sort of sitting on the sidelines.”

Murdoch told Benjamin Swinburne that when it comes to the NFL, FOX’s media rights are the same as CBS, NBC and ESPN. The main focus for the company remains on keeping games on TV.

“We don’t believe it helps us to put those rights under a streaming service or free on over-the-air. We think it’s very important that those rights remain exclusive to the broadcast environment,” Murdoch said.

FOX does stream games through its app, but it is only the games it is also carrying on its broadcast network or FS1.

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NBA Draft To Get Simulcast From ESPN & ABC

“This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.”

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ESPN is set for the 2022 NBA Draft coming up on June 23 at 8 p.m. from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The network announced Wednesday the crews that will handle coverage on both ESPN and ABC.

ABC will broadcast the first round in primetime. Kevin Negandhi will host and will be joined by Stephen A. Smith, Chiney Ogwumike and Jalen Rose. Monica McNutt will be reporting and interviewing draftees.

This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.

Malika Andrews will host both rounds for ESPN. Jay Bilas, Kendrick Perkins and Adrian Wojnarowski will share the set. Analysts Bobby Marks and Mike Schmitz will contribute.

“We’re thrilled that Malika Andrews will host this year’s ESPN presentation as she brings her well-documented, widespread skillset to our main set,” said David Roberts, head of NBA and Studio Production for ESPN. “The event will showcase the scope and depth of our NBA and college basketball talent roster with accomplished journalists and high-profile personalities across ESPN, ABC and ESPN Radio.”

ESPN will air a pre-draft red carpet show hosted by Cassidy Hubbarth from 5-6 p.m. Perkins and Richard Jefferson will also make appearances.

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