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Karl Ravech: Home Run Derby Is Difficult To Call

“The concept of, ‘You can’t throw a pitch until the prior one lands,’ is not necessarily obeyed all the time.”

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HRD
Courtesy: Major League Baseball

ESPN will be the exclusive home of the 2023 T-Mobile Home Run Derby on Monday, July 10. Sluggers including Seattle Mariners outfielder Julio Rodríguez, New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso and Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts. The presentation of the Home Run Derby will contain various changes from ESPN highlighted by new 3D ball-tracking technology to accentuate the viewing experience. Taking a similar approach to golf broadcasts, ESPN will present a rendering of T-Mobile Park, the home of the Seattle Mariners, and utilize Statcast data to outline where the home runs are landing.

Karl Ravech, who took over for Chris Berman after he stepped aside following the 2016 iteration of the event, will be on the call. Ravech compared the role to serving as an air traffic controller. Essentially, he will need to monitor multiple pieces of action simultaneously and ensure viewers are not confused by what is occurring.

“The Home Run Derby’s as difficult an event that I call because of the speed of it,” Ravech expressed. “The concept of, ‘You can’t throw a pitch until the prior one lands,’ is not necessarily obeyed all the time.”

The allure of the Home Run Derby has long captivated baseball fans since the first time the event took place on the All-Star stage in 1985. Over the years, the competition has become baseball’s version of a skills competition. Because of the popularity of home runs and the excitement they catalyze in spectators, an enigmatic feeling penetrates the atmosphere and adds an extra layer of significance to the event.

“I do think in a lot of ways when we grew up, the heavyweight champion of the world was recognized as universal as any other athlete,” Ravech said. “If you go way, way back to when Babe Ruth was playing, there is something about a home run and a home run champion.”

ESPN’s baseball property is optimistic that its Home Run Derby viewership will continue to rise after it drew an average of 6.9 million viewers last year across ESPN and ESPN2, peaking at 7.5 million viewers. On the night before though, ESPN, in conjunction with MLB Network, will present the first round and compensatory selections for the 2023 MLB Draft, taking place from Lumen Field, the home of the Seattle Seahawks.

ESPN’s coverage of the T-Mobile Home Run Derby begins at 4 p.m. EST/ 1 p.m. PST with a special edition of Baseball Tonight on ESPN. The action continues at 7 p.m. when a Statcast edition of the show airs on ESPN2, along with an alternate broadcast of the action focused on the analytics and technology beginning at 8 p.m. featuring Kevin Brown, Jessica Mendoza and Mike Petriello. The traditional broadcast of the event takes place at the same time on ESPN featuring Ravech and Pérez. On Sunday night, the MLB Draft presented by Nike begins at 7 p.m. EST/4 p.m. PST on ESPN and ESPN+, preceded by an hour-long edition of Baseball Tonight.

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NTT IndyCar Series Reportedly Nearing Media Rights Deal with FOX Sports

Terms of the agreement remain unknown, but it has been reported that IndyCar was looking to have one partner for its full season within its forthcoming media rights cycle.

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NTT IndyCar Series
Courtesy: NTT IndyCar Series

The NTT IndyCar Series, which includes the Indianapolis 500 and other races throughout the year, is reportedly closing in on signing a media rights deal with FOX Sports, according to a new report from Adam Stern of Sports Business Journal. The deal is reportedly expected to be announced “within days,” a development that comes after IndyCar expert Tony Donohue reported that FOX Sports offered IndyCar a complete network television package starting with the 2025 season and beyond. Potential occupants for IndyCar Rights are said to have been down to FOX and NBC in recent weeks, the latter of which is in the final year of its three-season contract with the open-wheel car racing league.

Terms of the agreement remain unknown, but it has been reported that IndyCar was looking to have one partner for its full season within its forthcoming media rights cycle. If this ends up being the case, it would presumably end the property’s relationship with NBC following the conclusion of the racing season in September. Penske Entertainment owns the NTT IndyCar Series, which attains a reported $20 million per year in media rights fees from NBC Sports.

News of the reported agreement between IndyCar and FOX Sports comes after the Indianapolis 500 averaged 5.34 million viewers on NBC and Peacock despite a four-hour weather delay. The broadcast marked the largest audience for the Indy 500 in the last three years and was also up 8% year-over-year from the 2023 iteration of the race.

INDYCAR removed the local blackout of the race in Indianapolis, Ind. and secured an 18.15 household rating and 54 share in the locale. The first six races of the 2024 IndyCar season averaged a total audience delivery of 1.95 million viewers, five of which were televised on NBC while the other one was on USA Network.

NASCAR announced new seven-year media rights deals with FOX Sports, NBC Sports, Amazon’s Prime Video and Warner Bros. Discovery beginning in 2025, collectively worth a reported total of $7.7 billion. FOX Sports will no longer air the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend because of how the new NASCAR media rights deal is structured, with the race moving to Prime Video.

Media rights for Formula 1 are currently held by ESPN and expire following the 2025 racing season, and there is reported interest from Apple to bid $2 billion per year for exclusive global rights to the property. FOX Sports previously broadcast Formula 1 races through its SPEED Network for 17 years through the conclusion of the 2012 season.

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NBC, TNT Sports to Join FOX Sports as Big East Basketball Partners According to Report

For Warner Bros. Discovery/TNT Sports, this will be the third sports media rights package it will have secured since reports started to leak out it will most likely have a reduced NBA package or no package at all.

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As jockeying continues for any available live sports programming, NBC and TNT Sports are reportedly on the verge of adding coverage of men’s and women’s basketball from the Big East. A report from Andrew Marchand of The Athletic says the two networks are expected to join current Big East partner FOX Sports in airing games starting with the 2025-26 season.

The report says while no agreement has been finalized, it appears FOX Sports will remain the top partner and is expected to continue airing the Big East Tournament, although Marchand says NBC and Peacock could end up with some tournament games. It also notes NBC plans to air most of its Big East games on Peacock.

What is not known yet is how CBS, another current Big East partner, may factor into the deal. According to Jon Lewis of Sports Media Watch, the few games CBS has carried are sublicensed from FOX Sports.

For Warner Bros. Discovery/TNT Sports, this will be the third sports media rights package it will have secured since reports started to leak out it will most likely have a reduced NBA package or no package at all. Earlier this week, the company announced a 10-year deal for the US rights to the French Open tennis tournament. That followed the announcement in May they had reached a 5-year deal to sublicense College Football Playoff games from ESPN. TNT Sports also carries NASCAR and has a partnership with CBS for NCAA Tournament games.

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Jen Lada to Appear on Around the Horn

Lada will become the 58th panelist all-time on the show.

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Graphic for Jen Lada appearing on Around the Horn
Graphic Courtesy: ESPN

Jen Lada, ESPN host and reporter and also part of the morning show team at ESPN Milwaukee, will make her debut later today on Around the Horn. Lada will become the 58th panelist all-time on the show.

In her time with ESPN, Lada has been seen on College GameDay, College Football Live, SportsCenter, First Take, Outside the Lines, E:60 and more. Lada started with ESPN in 2015 and she joined College GameDay as a features reporter and College Football Live as a host in 2016.

Prior to ESPN, Lada was an anchor and reporter for two and a half years in the Chicago area for Comcast SportsNet.

Around the Horn has been on the air since November, 2002. Woody Paige is the all-time leader in guest appearances on the show, which is nearing 3,000 times. Jackie MacMullan has the record for most appearances by a female panelist, she has appeared on 890 episodes.

Around the Horn is hosted by Tony Reali and airs weekdays at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN and on the ESPN App.

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