Big changes for baseball broadcasts on Fox’ sports networks

That will lead to fewer games on over-the-air television, a true sign of the times, and no Saturday afternoon contests appearing on the main network until Sept. 6.
Apr 5, 2014

 

If you think there has been a deluge of baseball on television in the past, get ready for even more this year.

Enter Fox Sports 1, a cable/satellite spinoff of over-the-air Fox Sports, to the ever-expanding business of televising athletic events.

A new approach by Fox has 7½-month-old FS1 taking over the bulk of the company’s national TV coverage in the regular season.

That will lead to fewer games on over-the-air television, a true sign of the times, and no Saturday afternoon contests appearing on the main network until Sept. 6.

But a bevy of contests on FS1, beginning Saturday, will more than double the amount of combined contests shown on the Fox conglomerate.

Last year, Fox had 24 Saturday telecasts (16 in the afternoon). This year the number is sliced to 12. But 40 are to air on the cable outlet, many on Saturday afternoons to pick up where Fox is cutting back.

There will be 20 Saturday doubleheaders — 10 times with both games on FS1, the other 10 times one will be on Fox and the other on FS1.

Fox Sports 1’s coverage begins Saturday, with the Minnesota-Cleveland contest at noon CDT followed by San Francisco-Los Angeles Dodgers at 3 p.m. — or after the first game ends.

Its pregame show debuts at 11:30 a.m., with Fox up-and-coming sportscaster Kevin Burkhardt in the host role.

He is joined by commentators Frank Thomas — who is to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer — and Gabe Kapler, who had a 12-year big-league career.

Then on Tuesday, FS1 has the Cardinals’ game, at home, against Cincinnati (7:15 p.m.) to carry nationally. That is one of three Redbirds games FS1 will produce itself, with Thom Brennaman (play-by-play) and Eric Karros (analysis) set to be in the booth.

FS1’s other exclusive Cards telecasts are July 12 (at Milwaukee, 3:10 p.m.) and Aug. 16 (home vs. San Diego, 6:15 p.m.).

The Redbirds are to appear on FS1 four other times, but those are not exclusive telecasts.

In each of those instances, the team’s local Fox Sports Midwest production is to be simulcast on FS1. (There is no local blackout provision for FS1, as is the case for some ESPN telecasts that involved the Cardinals.)

Meanwhile Fox’s over-the-air schedule doesn’t begin until May 24, when it will show three games regionally.

Meanwhile, Saturday’s Giants-Dodgers FS1 telecast features the debut of analysts Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci, who will work with play-by-play broadcaster Joe Buck.

They follow Tim McCarver, who has stepped down after a 34-year run as a network baseball analyst. (McCarver is to do 30 Cardinals games on Fox Sports Midwest, beginning May 2.)

The All-Star Game and World Series remain on over-the-air television.

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Green to CBS

CBS said this week that native St. Louisan and former Rams quarterback Trent Green will be contributing to the network’s NFL coverage this season, but in its statement, the network threw in an obviously unintentional but humorous line that announced his hiring:

“Green’s career was highlighted by his contributions to his hometown Rams’ victory in Super Bowl XXXIV over the Tennessee Titans ...”

Well, that is true — but not in the conventional sense of the word “contributions.”

Green was injured in an exhibition game in 1999, leading to unheralded Kurt Warner being thrust into the team’s No. 1 quarterback slot.

Green didn’t play a down that season, and Warner led the Rams, at odds of up to 250-1, to the Super Bowl title to begin a run for him that is leading to a movie about his life, now in the works.

Green had a solid career, too. He eventually moved on to play for Kansas City and had three consecutive seasons of passing for more than 4,000 yards.

Green, who starred at Vianney High, also played in the NFL for Washington, San Diego and Miami. He will be a game analyst for CBS and also will contribute to its cable division, CBS Sports Network, on which he will participate in the “NFL Monday QB” show and its Sunday pregame programming.

Green, who lives in the Kansas City area, got into broadcasting in 2009 after his playing career ended. He has worked as an analyst on Fox regional NFL telecasts, worked as a studio analyst for NFL Network’s “NFL Total Access,” and has done Thursday night NFL radio broadcasts on Westwood One.

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Tiger factor

This usually is one of the best times of year for any American network that televises sports, as CBS airs the college basketball championship on Monday night, then carries the final two rounds of the Masters the following weekend.

But the recent announcement that golf’s biggest name, Tiger Woods, won’t be participating in the Masters because of back surgery, put a damper on the CBS party. But CBS’ Sean McManus is trying to stay optimistic.

On a conference call Thursday, he was asked if Woods’ absence will “wreak havoc” on the ratings.

“I’m not sure ‘wreak havoc’ is an accurate statement,” he said. “When Tiger is in the Masters, there’s going to be a spike in the ratings. But I’ve said this many times — the Masters has always been the highest-rated and the most anticipated golf tournament of the year. That was true before Tiger Woods played in it, it’s true when Tiger Woods played in it, and it will be true when Tiger Woods is no longer playing.”

He said the track record for the Masters drawing well is deep.

“We’ve had Masters in the past when Tiger has not been in contention on Saturday and Sunday and we’ve had some pretty darn good ratings in those years,” he said, but acknowledged that “it’s easy to get used to having Tiger on the leaderboard and get used to the (ratings) spike.”

Still, he said that if there is drama near the end on Sunday, the Masters still should be the most-watched golf tourney in the U.S. this year.

“I think we’ll do an outstanding rating,” he said. “Will we miss the spike of not having Tiger there? I’m sure we probably will. But (I’m) not overly concerned.”

 

 

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