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MLB Media Celebrates Sarah Langs on Lou Gehrig Day

Throughout the day, sports media personalities and baseball fans have taken to social media to share their support for the initiative, and teams and broadcasts around the league will honor Langs.

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Lou Gehrig Day is being celebrated across Major League Baseball today – Friday, June 2 – aligning with the date Gehrig was named the Yankees’ starting first baseman, along with the date he passed away at the age of 37 after a six-year battle with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Baseball researcher and on-air personality Sarah Langs made her battle with the same disease public last fall, and was diagnosed at the age of 29. She has worked through the challenges it presents, continuing to find esoteric information and intriguing metrics to enhance coverage of the game. Langs also contributes to ESPN and MLB Network and also writes articles for MLB.com, seeking to channel her love of baseball as she battles this circumstance.

Cleveland Guardians beat reporter for MLB.com, Mandy Bell, penned a written piece and concomitant video essay about Langs and the impact she has had on her life. Throughout the day, sports media personalities and baseball fans have taken to social media to share their support for the initiative, and teams and broadcasts around the league will honor Langs.

The New York Mets in particular are making a $10,000 donation in Langs’ name to Project ALS through the organization’s “Amazin’ Mets Foundation.” Langs grew up as a fan of the team on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and watched baseball from a young age. She remained loyal to the team as she attended games for a 10-year stretch where she saw nothing but losses, but that streak was finally broken in May 2007. Langs quickly became enamored with the game in her youth and pursued a career in research pertaining to the sport. She subsequently attended the University of Chicago and expeditiously landed an entry-level job at ESPN.

A person is diagnosed with the fatal disease every 90 minutes, and a 70% increase of the disease is predicted worldwide by 2040. According to the University of Michigan, those diagnosed have a two- to four-year life expectancy. It is a progressive neurodegenerative disease affecting nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, and deprives people the chance to walk, talk and breathe. Researchers are working tirelessly to discover the cause of the disease and subsequently find a cure.

The league is partaking in a variety of initiatives to raise awareness about the disease and funding for research, including holding an autographed bat auction featuring signed equipment from one player on all 30 teams. The auction will benefit the Expanded Access Protocol program at the Healey and AMG Center for ALS, with all players being personally selected by Langs. Additionally, one “A Langs Star” will be displayed in each broadcast booth around the major leagues in support of Langs’ fight, an effort spearheaded by ESPN Sunday Night Baseball broadcaster Karl Ravech and woodworker Christopher Owens.

MLB Network personalities will don 4-ALS shirts and pints throughout the day, and the channel will re-air the Iron Knight: Lou Gehrig documentary Friday at 1 p.m. EST and Saturday at 12 p.m. EST. All players, managers and coaches will wear a Lou Gehrig Day patch on their uniforms, and there will be red wristbands available to wear during games. In Langs’ own words, “Baseball is the best,” and the game is showing her immense love back.

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Report: WNBA Could Quadruple Media Rights Fees

Under the current structure, the WNBA makes a reported $60 million annually from its media rights deals with The Walt Disney Company, Amazon’s Prime Video, CBS and Ion.

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(Illustration) | Courtesy: Women's National Basketball Association

The NBA is reportedly in the process of formalizing new media rights deals with The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal and Amazon’s Prime Video expected to be worth a collective $76 billion over the course of the deal. At the same time, the NBA is also negotiating media rights for the WNBA in which it has an ownership stake of approximately 60%. The WNBA could quadruple its annual media rights fee within these negotiations, according to a new report from Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports.

Under the current structure, the WNBA makes a reported $60 million annually from its media rights deals with The Walt Disney Company, Amazon’s Prime Video, CBS and Ion. Throughout the season thus far, the WNBA has seen its ratings increase, drawing more than 1 million viewers across several matchups throughout the regular season. Moreover, discussion surrounding the league is further assimilating into the sports vernacular surrounding stars such as Caitlin Clark, A’ja Wilson, Sabrina Ionescu and Breanna Stewart.

Ben Strauss of The Washington Post outlined how the NBA is in the process of considering one total bid from media companies that combines the value of media rights for the NBA and WNBA. With the league itself determining the value of media rights for the WNBA, he argues that it could either be “rocket fuel” for the league or that its augmented popularity “is more of an afterthought.” The possibility exists that it could be a combination of both extremes as well, but by having the league negotiate its media rights deal, quantifying the true value could be a more difficult task.

In a report from earlier in the year, McCarthy stated that the WNBA is likely to negotiate its own separate media rights deal if it is not receiving the remuneration that it wants. The WNBA attained its most-watched opening month in league history, averaging 1.32 million viewers for games across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, CBS, Ion and NBA TV. Moreover, the league had its most-attended opening month in its 26-year history with 400,000 fans at games through the end of May and a rise in sales of WNBA-branded merchandise by 236% year-over-year.

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NBA Finals Game 3 Up 2% on ABC and ESPN

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Graphic for the NBA Finals

Game 3 of the NBA Finals series which saw Boston take a three games to none lead in the series was up 2% from last year’s Game 3. The game averaged 11,426,000 viewers and peaked at 13,926,000 at 10:45 p.m. ET.

The game was the top draw in all of television for the night and took the top spot in all of the key demographics. So far through three games, the series is even with the television numbers from 2023.

NBA Countdown, the show which airs right before the game begins, was also up two percent compared to the same show a year ago. NBA Countdown averaged 4,330,000 viewers. Through three games, the show is up five percent from last season’s pregame shows.

The Celtics will look to secure their 18th NBA Championship when the two teams meet again for Game 4 tonight at 8:30 ET. If a Game 5 is necessary, it would be played on Monday, June 17.

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Report: Netflix Looking for Production Partner for NFL Christmas Day Game Broadcasts

The report also indicates that there could be “more resistance among current NFL partners to help out Netflix” because the company may be looking to become a long-term media rights partner for the league in the future.

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Netflix will stream two National Football League games on Christmas Day this year as part of a new deal with the league that was inked ahead of the official release of the regular-season schedule. The company is starting to prepare for these matchups by reportedly reaching out to broadcasters in an effort to find a partner to produce these matchups, the first of which is an AFC tilt between the Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers at 1 p.m. EST. Some of the broadcasters with whom Netflix has reportedly spoken with are ESPN, NBCUniversal and CBS Sports, according to a new report from Lillian Rizzo and Alex Sherman of CNBC.

The Walt Disney Company, which has a majority ownership stake of ESPN, will reportedly not produce these games since it has college football matchups on the same day, according to people familiar with the situation. CBS Sports and FOX Sports produce several games in different regions every week, which could make producing games with Netflix somewhat of a burden. The report also indicates that there could be “more resistance among current NFL partners to help out Netflix” because the company may be looking to become a long-term media rights partner for the league in the future. The NFL is able to opt out of its current media contracts following the 2029-30 season.

Over the years, Netflix has produced a variety of sports-related content in the form of documentaries and live specials. The company signed a media rights agreement with World Wrestling Entertainment to become the new broadcast home of the WWE Raw series beginning in 2025 reportedly worth $5 billion over 10 years.

Netflix also released the trailer for Receiver, the NFL docuseries following players on and off the field throughout the 2023-24 season, which is produced by NFL Films, Omaha Productions and 2PM Productions. The eight-episode series, which is a sequel to Quarterback, will feature Davante Adams, Justin Jefferson, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Amon-Ra St. Brown.

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