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Rob Manfred Believes World Series is Still in Best TV Timeslot

“We have a great product that fans want to see. We’re going to put the games on when it makes sense to play the games and hope we get a good audience.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Rob Manfred

A postponement of Game 3 of the World Series on Monday now puts Philadelphia viewers in a difficult spot. And despite the Phillies and Eagles going head to head on Thursday in terms of audience, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred isn’t worried.

The schedule for the fall classic shifted everything by one day because of Monday’s rainout. So now Game 5 of the World Series will be on at the same time as the Eagles/Texans game on Amazon.

“That is a primetime audience. That’s the reality,” Manfred told reporters after announcing the postponement on Monday. “Obviously, we weren’t scheduled to do that, but given the rain, we felt it was the best window for us.”

Manfred said given the fact that it’s the World Series, he didn’t feel right about avoiding an overlap with Thursday Night Football by having Game 5 played Friday and then potentially playing Game 6 on Saturday night in Houston on FOX.

“If you think about the travel day, we finish (in Philadelphia) and best case, the players maybe get to bed at 3 in the morning (in Houston). To ask them to come back and play that night — we did it in the regular season, I know that. But to do it in a World Series just didn’t seem right to me,” he said. “I’d like to play the games under as close to the conditions as they thought they were going to get at the beginning as possible.”

In terms of a potential Game 7 going up against Sunday Night Football, Manfred reiterated that he’s more concerned about making sure any game where a champion can be crowned is going to be the best that it can be.

“We have a great product that fans want to see. We’re going to put the games on when it makes sense to play the games and hope we get a good audience,” he said. “For me, the risk of playing less than a complete game, just not worth it.”

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Sports TV News

ESPN Creates ACC/SEC Challenge

The series will begin for the 2023-2024 season, launching with 28 games played between the two sports.

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ESPN, in conjunction with the ACC and SEC, is slated to announce the creation of the ACC/SEC Challenge for men’s and women’s basketball.

The series will begin for the 2023-2024 season, launching with 28 games played between the two sports. That number will grow to 30 contests when the SEC expands for the 2025-2026 season.

Every game in the challenge will be aired on an ESPN platform, with each side hosting the same amount of home games.

The creation of the event comes on the heels of the Big Ten’s new media rights deal with FOX, NBC, and CBS, ending a nearly four-decade relationship with ESPN. The ACC/Big Ten Challenge began in 1999, with the SEC/Big 12 Challenging beginning in 2013. Both events will cease to exist following this season.

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Sports TV News

FOX Sports Sees Record-Setting Ratings Weekend

The World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

Jordan Bondurant

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FOX Sports has been home to a number of record-setting games in terms of viewership over the last several days.

In addition to FOX Sports setting a new mark for a Thanksgiving and regular season NFL audience, the World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

The network reported the U.S./England match in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup averaged 15.377 million. It was the most-watched English-language soccer game in the U.S. ever, topping the 1994 World Cup final between Italy and Brazil.

Viewership of the match was up 11% compared to the second group stage contest for the U.S. team in 2014 against Portugal. The audience peaked at 19.646 million from 3:30-3:45 p.m.

FOX Sports also reported the Michigan/Ohio State game on Saturday drew in 17 million, which made it the most-watched regular season college game on the network ever. That figure was also the highest of any regular season contest since 2011. That game also saw the audience peak at 19.6 million.

Viewership for the game was up 3% compared to last year.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Bowl Plans Could Be Altered By NFL Flex Scheduling

“While this situation poses a challenge, we are accustomed to flexibility and having to maneuver our event schedules.”

Jordan Bondurant

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ESPN could be forced to adjust its upcoming bowl season schedule if the NFL decides to flex a Las Vegas Raiders game a week before Christmas.

ESPN announced its contingency plans for two bowl contests, the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. The Las Vegas Bowl is currently planned to kick off from Allegiant Stadium at 7:30 p.m. on December 17. The Raiders right now are still planning to play in the Sunday night game the next night against the Patriots.

Should the NFL decide to flex the Raiders out of the SNF window, ESPN will swap kickoff times between the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. That would mean the game in sin city will kick off at 11:30 a.m. local time, with the contest in Albuquerque starting at 5:20 p.m. local time that evening.

“The SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl and New Mexico Bowl are both owned and operated by ESPN Events, so this change is a solution that will work for all parties,” ESPN Events vice president Clint Overby said. “While this situation poses a challenge, we are accustomed to flexibility and having to maneuver our event schedules. We are more than prepared to move forward with this revised schedule if necessary.”

Kickoff times will be determined well enough ahead that the schools taking part in both games shouldn’t be adversely affected.

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