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Apple TV+ making changes to MLB broadcast as Bally Sports remains in flux

Morning news and notes for Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023

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Houston Astros v Los Angeles Angels Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

If you watched MLB games on Apple TV last year, you were subjected to the most random odds without context shown on screen and announcers that weren’t exactly calling the game.

That is apparently going to change this year as Apple TV+ plans to move away from what USA Today described as “podcast-style entertainment in between the gaps of play” — likely to more traditional broadcasts. This includes cutting ties with broadcasters Katie Nolan and Melanie Newman, who were both refreshingly knowledgeable about baseball compared to the cliche-filled talking heads we usually get. But trying to force a comedic broadcaster like Nolan into the booth just doesn’t work.

Even Nolan herself realized it was a weird plan, but the Apple TV+ execs (who were probably wearing backward hats and holding skateboards over their shoulders) managed to convince her it was a good idea.

“When I found out what it was, I was like, ‘Are they confused? Do they know what I do?’” the Emmy winner said in November on Kenny Mayne’s “Hey Mayne” podcast. “... And then I got on the phone with them and they sold me on the idea of me. They sold me on the idea of this like vision they had for a baseball booth. As with most things that start as visions, they don’t always end up being executed the same way.

What Apple TV+ was basically trying to do was have a Twitch-style stream without realizing why they are actually popular. If Apple TV+ (and by extension, MLB) wants that style to work, they need to follow the NBA’s lead and designate a few games where Twitch partners can stream the game to their audiences.

You’re never going to force people to like watching content creators — like the ultra cringe-worthy broadcasts YouTubeTV has tried to do in the past. If you want to make it work, you have to let the games come to the streamers, not the other way around. You can’t force three people in a booth to pretend like they’re friends and have it sound like an authentic podcast.

Katie Nolan has plenty of experience hosting her own show. Give her a studio, let her bring in her own guests, and let them talk over a baseball game with more creative control.

I said it in 2017 and I still stand by it — it’s the final frontier for garnering a new audience and MLB is going to get left in the dust if they don’t catch on eventually. You might not want to watch some streamer or content creator talk about baseball while you’re trying to watch, but there is a very large audience that does. It’s why people like Jomboy already have a large following just by putting a camera on their faces while a game plays offscreen to avoid rebroadcasting issues. The future is now, old man.

Now, speaking of broadcast organizations that don’t seem to know what they are doing, some Guardians news.

Cleveland Guardians news

Guardians’ TV season stays blurry as Bally Sports parent company skips debt payment | Cleveland

Diamond Sports Group, the parent company of Bally Sports, which holds the television rights to the Guardians and 13 other MLB teams, failed to make a scheduled $140 million debt payment by Wednesday’s deadline as it moved closer to bankruptcy and a reorganization.

Why Harold Ramirez is truly happy to be back in Rays camp | Tampa Bay
Guardians news by the loosest sense of the term, but Cleveland’s former outfielder has seemingly found a home in Tampa Bay and I couldn’t be happier for him.

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