Is Major League Baseball making a mistake in dividing its product among regional sports networks; national outlets in ESPN, TBS, and Fox; and now, streaming platforms with Apple TV+ and Peacock?
TheWrap’s Brian Welk talked to a few industry analysts who believe MLB could be taking a risk by moving broadcasts to platforms where fans aren’t accustomed to looking for baseball.
“Think about the consumer experience of what that could be like, trying to find your team and your game,” Parks Associates senior contributing analyst Eric Sorenson told Welk. “It is very fragmented. And the question really is whether baseball fans are accustomed to it.”
Fans of particular baseball teams might encounter some frustration this season (and in future years), having to look for games beyond the regional sports networks where those broadcasts have been, other than the occasional ESPN or Fox national telecasts. And with Apple TV+ and Peacock, those fans will have to sign up for those services to watch games.
Ultimately, MLB saw new revenue streams in streaming outlets eager to add live sports to their catalogs and perhaps prepare them for adding other sports rights deals in the future. The league is able to add revenue without changing its core product, while raising the bar for future rights deals.
Welk points out that MLB’s audience is old and getting older. The average baseball fan is now 57 years old. So the need to reach younger fans through outlets where they’re getting content, rather than network TV or cable, seems urgent.
The risk is losing the incumbent audience by scattering games across various platforms to pursue fans that might not like sports as much. But according to research analyst Bruce Leichtmann, possibly gaining those younger fans is worth the gamble. Especially when MLB is getting so much money ($115 million annually) from Apple TV+ and Peacock.
“Even if they convert hypothetically zero of those fans, they’re still getting a new revenue stream that was not there before,” said Parks Associates director of research Paul Erickson. “There’s a finite limit to how many different deals they can cut for the same base of content before they start to chip into some of the highest value content of the nature of the portfolio that constitutes MLB.TV.”
Ian Casselberry is a sports media columnist for BSM. He has previously written and edited for Awful Announcing, The Comeback, Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation. You can find him on Twitter @iancass or reach him by email at email@example.com.
FOX Sued for Patent Infringement Over NFL Scheduling
“Recentive Analytics filed suit against FOX in a Delaware federal court on November 29 according to Yahoo Sports.”
An analytics company is suing FOX over claims that the network developed a mapping tool using their patented technology to create a season slate of NFL games.
Recentive Analytics filed suit against FOX in a Delaware federal court on November 29 according to Yahoo Sports.
The lawsuit claims FOX used access to Recentive’s predictive analytics tools to develop a resource of their own that would create optimal schedules for its 1 and 4 p.m. NFLwindows.
The company is seeking a declaration that FOX infringed on two of its patents. Recentive is also suing for damages and wants an injunction keeping FOX from using Recentive tech and preventing the network from “selling, offering for sale, marketing or using any internal network and mapping analytics tool for the scheduling and regionalization of events covered by the patents.”
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He works full-time as a multimedia specialist at the Virginia State Corporation Commission, while also putting in part-time work for News Radio WRVA and 910 The Fan in Richmond. Additionally, you can find Jordan contributing coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly and ABC 8News. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.
FOX Will Use Chris Fallica On Belmont Stakes Coverage
“While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.”
The Bear will be more than just a college football presence when he moves to FOX. Chris Fallica wrapped his final duties for ESPN last week and is now headed to a new network and will tackle some new responsibilities.
Fallica’s new role at FOX will involve plenty of sports gambling content. Richard Deitsch of The Athletic reports that content will include horse racing.
“One Fox Sports source said look for him to appear on the Belmont Stakes coverage,” Deitsch wrote in his weekly media column.
Starting in 2023, horse racing’s Triple Crown will not be seen all in one place. While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.
How the network intends to use Chris Fallica on the broadcast is not clear. Given that he is coming to the network to contribute to gambling conversations, it is likely he would either be making picks or at least reviewing odds right up to the start of the race.
NBCUniversal CEO Expects Disney To Buy Company’s Hulu Stake
“Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal.”
The Walt Disney Company owns 67% of Hulu. The other 33% is owned by NBCUniversal. The latter company doesn’t expect that to be the case forever.
“It’s worth a lot of money,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said at an investor conference earlier this week, “and I think there’s no indication that anything else is going to happen than Disney writing us a big check.”
Hulu is primarily a platform for movies and television shows. It is a major part of Disney’s deal with the NHL though. The streaming giant is part of the package of 103 games that are exclusive to ESPN and ABC. Hulu is also a live TV provider for many. The company’s Hulu Plus Live TV package had over 4 million subscribers as of the summer of 2022.
Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal. He credits sports and content migrated from Hulu as the reason Peacock has grown to 18 million paid subscriptions since September.
Deadline reports that if Disney does want to acquire NBCUniversal’s stake in Hulu, “the price could fluctuate but will be in the tens of billions of dollars.”