Welcome to the 10th installment of a weekly mailbag that I will be writing about the world of sports media (and anything else you want to chime in on). Please email me any questions you have to Jimmy.Traina@si.com or send them via Twitter.
Lots of questions about the NBA’s broadcast future this week. Let’s get to it.
What is your preferred NBA rights packaging?— The r/BillSimmons Podcast (@rBillSimmonsPod) May 30, 2023
What would be your least favorite media co(s) getting/maintaining rights?
As long as Turner, now known as Warner Bros. Discovery, keeps a package, I don’t really care what happens with the other broadcast outlets. Sure, if TNT lost the NBA, Ernie, Kenny, Chuck and Shaq could land elsewhere, but it wouldn’t be the same. There’s a history with that crew, Turner and the NBA—and it shouldn’t be messed with.
Obviously, I’d love it if one of the packages didn’t end up as a streaming exclusive because I hate streaming games, but it certainly sounds like Amazon will be a major player for one of the NBA packages.
🔥Sports media hot take prediction🔥— Jai Shields (@TheJShield) May 30, 2023
TNT will lose the NBA to NBC & the Inside crew will move with the Association to NBC
Do you think that will happen, yes or no?
I think if TNT-Turner-WBD ever lost the NBA, the Inside the NBA crew would end up at ESPN before they’d end up at NBC, as I discussed with Richard Deitsch on last week’s SI Media With Jimmy Traina podcast.
If NBC gets the NBA, do you think Noah Eagle would be a good option as one of their play by players?— TJ (@TJRamsey44) May 30, 2023
Noah Eagle, who currently calls Clippers games, would be a fine choice to be a play-by-play man for NBC if the network lands an NBA package. My guess, though, is that NBC would give Mike Tirico the assignment as long as there aren't too many conflicts with his NFL duties.
Who do you think the best pbp and analyst are currently in the NFL— Isles Mets Jets fan (@bigjimfan) May 30, 2023
I think all the No. 1 play-by-play callers in the NFL—Joe Buck, Jim Nantz, Kevin Burkhardt, Mike Tirico and Al Michaels—are excellent and all could easily be called “the best.” Ian Eagle and Kevin Harlan, who call NFL games for CBS, could be put in this category, too. There is more disparity, though, with the analysts. Some are great, some are good, some are O.K. If I had to pick the best, I’d go with ESPN’s Joe Buck and Troy Aikman.
When ESPN goes DTC do you see a fair amount of people only subscribing for NFL &CFB then canceling after football is over. How much more bargaining power would NFL/CFB have over ESPN in that case and would ESPN spend less on other sports if the subscriber base isn’t there.— JerseyJoe (@Joefromjers) May 30, 2023
This is a great question. I would imagine some people who follow only the NFL and college football would do this, but I don’t think that would be a significant number of people. Most sports fans are into more than one sport, and ESPN has everything so I can’t see a huge number of subscribers canceling in February and resubscribing in September.
Why does Rob Manfred hate showcasing his sport on major holidays?— Matt (@Mchuck16) May 30, 2023
Because Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball have no idea how to put together a schedule that makes any sense. They never have. It’s been a problem for many, many years.
Has anyone at Amazon or the Yankees ever divulged to you at least privately how many viewers their games on Prime have drawn this year? Maybe we have not seen data because the raw audience figures are actually minimal? Their PIX-11 games before '22 rated very well, though.— Douglas Pucci (@SonOfTheBronx) May 30, 2023
I’ve never seen or heard a viewership number for Yankees games on Amazon. I’ve also never seen or heard a viewership number for MLB’s weekly Friday night money-grab Game of the Week on Apple or MLB’s weekly Sunday morning money-grab Game of the Week on Peacock. The fact that those numbers have never been released tells you everything you need to know.
Now some email questions.
Jimmy, big Yankees fan here. Did SportsNet or anyone affiliated with the Blue Jays broadcast offer any type of apology for the whole “Judge is cheating” fiasco? Those rumors were blatantly unfounded, and the MLB isn’t even bothering to investigate because it’s such a farce. Don’t you think it’s dangerous for a TV network (not even the team itself!) to be lobbing out accusations, especially in a post-Astros scandal world? Seems like anything a camera picks up and some shortsighted PbP guy can falsely opine on can catch fire on Twitter. Just feel like they should’ve at least mentioned some sort of mea culpa in the fallout. Love all your work. —Thanks, A.J.
I didn’t see any formal apology and I’m not sure one is even warranted. The Blue Jays broadcast team of Dan Schulman and Buck Martinez spotted Judge darting his eyes right before a pitch was thrown and pointed it out. Yes, their tone had a “is this legal?” vibe, but they didn’t flat-out accuse Judge of cheating. And looking into the dugout to get a sign isn’t cheating so the whole thing was much ado about nothing.
Jimmy, in line with your callout of “keys to the game” being a meaningless graphic, how do you feel about the play-by-play man addressing the free throw percentage of the player at the line if he is perfect from the line in the game/series, especially when the game is tight? I know the analysts feel like you’re putting a jinx on the guy at the line, and I feel the same way. We’ve seen playoff games where Breen or Harlan call out the perfect FT percentage and then the guy misses. I think just putting the graphic up of the guy’s FT percentage for that game while he’s at the line is good enough. Thoughts?
Separately, on top of having to pay for streaming services to watch games, have you noticed how ridiculous the taxes and fees have become on TV packages?? Broadcasting fees, public education service fees, equipment fees, local taxes … it’s ridiculous! —Kobi
My thoughts are that it’s fun to call out an announcer jinx, but if you actually believe in an announcer jinxing a player, you should make an appointment with a psychologist as soon as possible.
Yes, the fees on your cable and phone bills are a complete joke and we’re all being ripped off. But that’s the life of a sports fan. We get ripped off every single day, whether it’s going to games and paying $40 to park or whether it’s being forced to subscribe to a million streaming services, and we don’t seem to care for some strange reason.