As much as Major League Baseball keeps pushing Alex Rodriguez on us, sports fans keep trying to push him back.
Nonetheless, A-Rod remains one of baseball’s most recognizable names despite being nearly five years removed from retirement. But what does that mean for a sport struggling to keep the attention of younger generations? According to Minnesota Timberwolves 19-year-old budding star Anthony Edwards, not much.
Last year, A-Rod struck out in his bid to purchase the New York Mets. Last week, the three-time MLB MVP settled on the next best thing as he reportedly struck a deal to buy the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves. Rodriguez and friend Marc Lore have 30 days to finalize an agreement to purchase the Timberwolves and the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx from current owner Glen Taylor.
A megastar heading to Minnesota to help a rather dormant NBA franchise in the Timberwolves, the players must be very excited!
“I don’t know who that is,” Edwards told reporters Tuesday night.
Not exactly a glowing endorsement for Major League Baseball, and this is the league’s biggest problem. The game might be old, slow and boring, but their detriment is their inability to market stars. Mike Trout, Fernando Tatis Jr., Mookie Betts, Juan Soto, Jacob deGrom: as great as they are, they can’t carry a team to championships. Baseball remains a sport where the name on the front of the jersey is more important than the name on the back, while modern fans of many sports are more interested in the individual player than the team.
It probably also isn’t a very good sign for the league that a 20 year old cannot name the face of Major League Baseball’s signature television product, Sunday Night Baseball. ESPN shouldn’t feel much better.
A-Rod tried to play it cool, responding on Instagram with “Hi Anthony. I’m Alex!” But this had to crush Rodriguez, a man rumored to have a painting of himself as a centaur hanging over his bed. A man who tried to warm up to New York by sunning himself in Central Park. A man who did a photo shoot kissing himself in a mirror. Vain isn’t enough to describe the most ego-centric player in Major League Baseball history.
The sale price of the two franchises is expected to be around $1.5 billion and if it goes through, A-Rod and Lore will be 50-50 partners. Hopefully it does, because sports ownership desperately needs diversity much more than it needs starpower. But the next time a sports broadcast, podcast, radio station, media or entertainment outlet decides to recycle another big-name talent, think again, because your target audience might not even recognize the name.
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.”
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.
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?”
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.
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.”
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.