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ESPN & ESPN2 To Televise MLB Draft Starting June 10

“This may be the only live Major League Baseball content ESPN has to offer in 2020 as the players and owners remain far apart on a financial agreement that would clear a path for a shortened 2020 season.”

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ESPN had a certified hit with The Last Dance. The network hoped that meant that there was an interest in sports documentaries during the Covid-19 pandemic, but the ratings for the first part of Lance proved that isn’t the case.

Now, ESPN is reaching a little further back in hopes of generating some ratings success. The last live event that ESPN aired that generated major ratings was the NFL Draft. The World Wide Leader is hoping that there is enough interest in Major League Baseball that its draft can produce similar success.

Starting June 10, ESPN will carry the first five rounds of Major League Baseball’s entry draft over the course of two nights. Round one will air on ESPN. Rounds 2-5 will air on ESPN2 on June 11. Just like the NFL Draft, MLB’s will be a mostly virtual affair, with all 30 MLB GMs connected via a video link in their home.

Karl Ravech will anchor the coverage from Bristol alongside MLB Draft expert Kiley McDaniel. Chris Burke, Jessica Mendoza, Jeff Passan, Eduardo Perez and Kyle Peterson will all provide analysis remotely.

This may be the only live Major League Baseball content ESPN has to offer in 2020 as the players and owners remain far apart on a financial agreement that would clear a path for a shortened 2020 season. Otherwise, it is hard to imagine the network would have interest in televising the draft.

Major League Baseball’s Entry Draft has been televised in the past by both ESPN and the MLB Network, but has never drawn strong ratings. College baseball doesn’t enjoy the national profile college football and college basketball though. That, combined with the number of prospects drafted right out of high school results in little interest in the event from anyone but hardcore baseball fans.

Sports TV News

Kay Adams: Pat McAfee Has Built ‘The Dream’

“it’s interesting because he’s built himself to such a place that he does not need anyone and that is the dream.”

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Many in sports media have respect for former NFL punter Pat McAfee for what he has accomplished in his media endeavors, and you can add FanDuel TV host Kay Adams to that list.

“I’m just blown away by the success and by the leverage he has,” Adams said on the My Other Passion podcast. “It is uncanny, it is aspirational, and it is self-made, so it is a beautiful thing. I — of course — watch what he does. I don’t want to be just like him but I do think he is so disruptive.

“He has such a chip on his shoulder. It drives him but I almost wish I could see it relieved a little bit. He’s thriving, he’s happy, and I think the thing that sticks out to me about him is that he’s truly grateful. Truly is grateful for everything he has, his opportunities. He’s worked his ass off for it.”

Adams pointed to McAfee’s recent spat with the NFL over use of the league’s logos as an indicator of not only his success but his influence in the sports landscape.

“He is true to himself but he mostly leads with gratitude, which I think is the epitome of success. But he’s out there show you what can be done. He’s the first, but will he be the last to have that sort of platform? That sort of swing? What he does with the NFL the other week, I’m paying attention to that.

“Because I wanna see: is the NFL gonna bend the knee to Pat McAfee? Does the NFL care what he says? But it’s interesting because he’s built himself to such a place that he does not need anyone and that is the dream.”

The NFL did eventually “bend the knee” and reversed course on limiting McAfee’s use of league trademarks.

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Sports TV News

John Skipper: Bob Iger’s Return Won’t Effect ESPN

“If you’re going to win the streaming wars, you’re going to have to have sports.”

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There have been many questions about what Bob Iger’s return to Disney will mean for ESPN, but former ESPN President John Skipper believes it won’t change much.

Skipper pointed to Iger’s relationships with powerbrokers in the sports world as a positive, and also believes that the “streaming wars” will be won by those who hold the rights to live sports.

“As a moat, to get the pay-TV fees and to get people to pay more money to subscribe,” Skipper pointed to Sportico as the reason for ESPN to still have an agreement with the NBA for linear TV. He later added “If you’re going to win the streaming wars, you’re going to have to have sports.”

Skipper also said the network used to invest in constant studio programming but said that’s no longer a necessity.

“We did that type of programming because the economics were different at the time,” Skipper said.

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Sports TV News

Warner Bros. Discovery Sports President Departs

“His enthusiasm and light-hearted demeanor are among his most endearing qualities, and they will be missed.”

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Lenny Daniels is leaving Warner Bros. Discovery after 27 years with the company.

Daniels is the President of the company’s sports division in the United States, overseeing the contracts and strategic vision for the organization.

In a memo sent to staff obtained by Sports Business Journal, CEO Luis Silberwasser said “While this change will take place right away, Lenny has agreed to work with me to ensure a smooth transition.” He also added “I have enjoyed working with Lenny during these past few months and I respect his decision. Lenny has never been one to place a spotlight on himself; he’s always been quick to shine it on those around him. His enthusiasm and light-hearted demeanor are among his most endearing qualities, and they will be missed.”

The departure by Daniels coincides with a round of layoffs by the company and also the beginning of long-term agreements with the NHL and MLB. The network is also about to embark on negotiations with the NBA for its next media rights deal, with Warner Bros. Discovery CEO and President David Zaslav recently saying “we don’t have to have the NBA“.

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