ESPN’s commitment to MLB never stronger

The facts do not support a recent suggestion that ESPN is cutting back on its MLB coverage because the network is not televising postseason baseball.

“ESPN’s commitment to Major League Baseball has never been stronger,” said John Skipper, ESPN executive vice president, content.  “The enhancements this season – Baseball Tonight on the road, the new studio, personnel, fan engagement across media platforms – have led to our best product in the 22-year relationship we’ve enjoyed with MLB.”

Enhancements to ESPN’s MLB coverage in 2011:

  • Baseball Tonight on the road
    • for the first time, the show regularly traveled to the site of Sunday Night Baseball throughout the entire season
    • expanded MLB coverage during SportsCenter, Outside the Lines and Baseball Tonight via digital, mobile and social media platforms
      • regular in-studio appearances by Baseball Tonight commentators throughout the day on SportsCenter
      • MLB on SportsCenter:
        • 128 – average number of MLB highlights on SportsCenter in a 24-hour period
        • approx. 70 percent of game highlights airing on SportsCenter (11 p.m. ET) are MLB highlights
        • 50 percent of SportsCenter’s “Top 10” are MLB plays
  • since July, nearly 60 baseball-related feature stories or essays have aired on SportsCenter, Outside the Lines and other studio shows
  • vastly increased Baseball Tonight content created exclusively for ESPN.com and ESPN Mobile Properties
    • MLB content on ESPN’s mobile properties is up 27 percent in total minutes and 20 percent in visits compared to 2010; ESPN.com’s MLB section is up 25 percent in total minutes and 17 percent in visits over last year
  • social media integration, including Twitter dialogue with fans during MLB game and studio coverage; nearly all ESPN MLB commentators engaging with fans on Twitter; debut of new Baseball Tonight Facebook page
  • new Baseball Tonight studio
    • state-of-the-art studio, the network’s first space devoted exclusively to one sports category, debuted Aug. 15
    • new game commentator teams
      • Sunday Night Baseball – Dan Shulman, Orel Hershiser, Bobby Valentine, Buster Olney, Pedro Gomez;
      • Monday Night Baseball – Sean McDonough, Aaron Boone, Rick Sutcliffe, Tim Kurkjian
      • Wednesday Night Baseball – Dave O’Brien, Nomar Garciaparra, Gomez
      • new studio commentators
        • Barry Larkin, Mark Mulder, Jamie Moyer
        • technology
          • Sunday Night Baseball’s “K Zone Live” and enriched “Diamond Track”
          • state-of the art Baseball Tonight studio with virtual capabilities (e.g. “Virtual Pitch” used more regularly this year; can now shoot with or without a green screen) and touch screens
          • new virtual distance markers during Home Run Derby

ESPN’s MLB postseason coverage (while ESPN does not televise the playoffs, the company’s commitment to the postseason is substantial):

  • ESPN Radio exclusively broadcasts every postseason game from the Division Series through the World Series
  • extensive MLB highlights, news and information throughout the entire postseason via Baseball Tonight, SportsCenter, ESPNEWS, ESPN Radio, ESPN.com, ESPN Mobile Properties, among other ESPN news and information outlets
  • ESPN International televises the World Series, National League Championship Series and up to 10 League Division Series games
  • Baseball Tonight at the World Series
    • ESPN’s signature MLB studio show from the site of the World Series offering comprehensive pre- and post-game coverage


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