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ESPN Unveils New Sunday Night Baseball Strategy For TV, Radio

“Cone will team up with Karl Ravech, who becomes just the fourth-ever Sunday Night Baseball play-by-play voice, as well as Eduardo Perez, to form the new Sunday Night Baseball broadcast booth.”

Will Dundon

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ESPN announced its new coverage strategy for Sunday Night Baseball.  They have reached a multi-year agreement with five-time World Series Champion and former Cy Young Award winner David Cone. Cone will team up with Karl Ravech, who becomes just the fourth-ever Sunday Night Baseball play-by-play voice, as well as Eduardo Perez, to form the new Sunday Night Baseball broadcast booth.  The deals for Ravech and Perez are part of tong-term contract extensions with the network.  They along with Cone will call ESPN’s 25 Sunday Night Baseball telecasts as well as other exclusive games during the season, including MLB Opening Night.

ESPN also confirmed Alex Rodriguez and Michael Kay would be hosting a special presentation of Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN2: Sunday Night Baseball with Kay-Rod

The eight Sunday Night Baseball with Kay-Rod presentations on ESPN2 will coincide with ESPN’s highest-profile rivalry games, including the New York Yankees vs. the Boston Red Sox. In addition to discussion and analysis, the telecasts will integrate fantasy baseball, predictive analytics and special guests tied to the game.

“As we begin our next chapter of baseball coverage, we aim to maximize the value of this new rights agreement by prioritizing innovation and compelling storytelling, Norby Williamson, ESPN Executive Vice President & Executive Editor, said in a press release. “We welcome David Cone to ESPN and believe he and Eduardo Perez will offer a master class in contemporary analysis, including Statcast-driven data and discussion. Karl Ravech, who has been our ‘Mr. Baseball’ for three decades, will lead the booth with the command and credibility that he’s displayed throughout his career. I’m equally excited for the duo of Alex Rodriguez and Michael Kay to team up and offer fans a new, engaging experience. The innovative Sunday Night Baseball with Kay-Rod presentations will be informative and entertaining and play a crucial role in our overall Sunday Night Baseball content offerings. We’re grateful for the collaboration with the YES Network and look forward to starting the 2022 season.”

If the MLB Wild Card Series returns in 2022, the event will be fully exclusive to ESPN platforms and both new commentator teams will contribute to coverage.
Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown, will be on the road in 2022 for a dozen on-site pre-game shows leading into Sunday Night Baseball. Karl Ravech will continue to host Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown on the road. Ravech will be joined by ESPN’s deep roster of MLB analysts and reporters, including Jessica Mendoza, Eduardo Perez, David Cone, Marly Rivera, Doug Glanville, Buster Olney, Tim Kurkjian, Jeff Passan and Jesse Rogers.

ESPN Radio will air the 2022 Major League Baseball season. Jon “Boog” Sciambi will enter his 13th season as ESPN Radio’s Sunday Night Baseball play-by-play voice. ESPN analyst Doug Glanville will join the ESPN Radio team for his first season as analyst, teaming up with Sciambi. Coverage will also include reports from Marly Rivera, Buster Olney and Tim Kurkjian.

The 2022 Sunday Night Baseball schedules for ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Radio and ESPN Deportes will be announced in the coming weeks.

Sports TV News

PGA Tour Expects Mic’d Players To Be Common For 2023 TV Broadcasts

“This doesn’t need to be a walk and talk like I did. But we can make it what you want it to be.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Following the success with Max Homa last weekend, the PGA Tour is planning to mic a player up this weekend at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

According to Sports Business Journal, the Tour is considering micing up a player on either the 14th or 18th hole at Pebble Beach.

“The point of this is that if you want it to just be, they have an air pod on your caddie and they ask him one question, he could elaborate on something,” Homa said in an interview on the podcast No Laying Up. “That would be an improvement. This doesn’t need to be a walk and talk like I did. But we can make it what you want it to be.”

Homa added that he appreciated that the questions he was asked while taking part in the segment were solely on the task at hand and tackling the hole he was on.

“It wasn’t about how it is being a dad, how it is being in contention, it’s about golf,” he said. “This hole. That’s what we wanted it to be.”

CBS received positive reviews for debuting the new segment in their season debut at Torrey Pines last week.

It will be interesting to see if having players mic’d up for a segment will carry into NBC coverage or if it remains exclusively CBS. Have to think that in April at The Masters, if CBS keeps with it, the segment has the potential to be pretty compelling especially if the interview is with a player in contention or even leading.

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Sports TV News

ABC Scores Most Watched NBA Saturday Primetime Game In 4 Years

“The game drew 3.7 million viewers.”

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The Boston Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night. While the game’s controversial finish left LeBron James and Patrick Beverly upset, executives at the Walt Disney Company had nothing but smiles thanks to the performance of ABC.

The game drew 3.7 million viewers. That means the Celtics’ win is the most-watched game in the ABC Saturday night prime-time window in the last four years. A February 2019 game between the Lakers and Golden State Warriors drew 4.1 million.

Boston also delivered the highest-rated game of the NBA season so far outside of the league’s stacked Christmas Day slate.

NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC is experiencing a nice uptick in viewership this season. Through the weekend, the Saturday night games are averaging over 3.4 million viewers according to an ESPN press release.

That number represents a 16% jump from last season. The edition of NBA Countdown that airs before the Saturday night game is having a good season as well. It’s average audience is up 3% to just under 1.5 million.

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Sports TV News

NHL Ratings on ESPN, TNT Down in 2nd Year

So far this season, games on ESPN and TNT are averaging 373,000 viewers, which is down from 478,000 last season.

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Viewership totals from ESPN and TNT show NHL ratings have declined heading into the All-Star break, but there are some extenuating circumstances for the nearly 22% drop.

So far this season, games on ESPN and TNT are averaging 373,000 viewers, which is down from 478,000 last season. However, both channels have increased their linear television schedule, doubling from 27 games to 54.

ESPN has aired 18 games with an average of 402,000 viewers. In the same time period last year, the worldwide leader had only aired seven contests, but garnered 622,000 per game. None of ESPN’s games last season had aired on weekends, while the network has broadcast six games on Sunday this year alone. The 12 games ESPN has aired that weren’t on Sunday have averaged 491,000 viewers.

The 2023 NHL All-Star Game will air on ABC Saturday, and the network is hoping for a lift from last season. In 2022, ratings fell 38% from the previous All-Star Game on NBC, and hit the lowest total since 2009. The NHL Skills challenge saw its largest audience in a decade after airing on ESPN in primetime on a Friday evening. Nearly 1.1 million watched the skills challenge, a 30% increase compared to 2020.

At this time last season, TNT had aired 20 games. Through 36 games this season, the network has seen an average of 359,000 viewers. The network is helped by the 2023 Winter Classic, which took place at Fenway Park on Monday, January 2nd. The afternoon contest saw an audience of 1.78 million, up 31% compared to the previous year.

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