SBD/Issue 198/Sports Media

MLB Penalizing ESPN Over Announcement Of All-Star Rosters

MLB is not allowing ESPN to use a studio set in right field at AT&T Park for editions of "Baseball Tonight" and "SportsCenter" during All-Star week in response to ESPN's treatment of the release of the All-Star rosters, according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES.  TBS on July 1 aired its first All-Star Game selection show, and while the show was scheduled to air at 4:00pm ET, it was delayed until 6:00pm due to a rain delay during TBS' Braves-Marlins coverage. After each roster was revealed on TBS, ESPN announced it on "SportsCenter," despite MLB telling the net that it "could not release the rosters until after the TBS show ended."  ESPN Senior VP/Programming & Acquisitions Len DeLuca said, "We understood that it was an embargo through the end of show, but we considered that impractical and really unfair in terms of its enforceability."  However, MLB Exec VP/Business Tim Brosnan said, "Our agreement with ESPN was not left up to them to decide what is practical or impractical.  We expected our agreement to be honored."  DeLuca said that ESPN "behaved no differently than it did when it revealed the NCAA men's basketball tournament brackets shortly after CBS did."  He also "suggested that ESPN was an easy target because it is so big and wondered aloud how many other outlets used All-Star rosters that were erroneously distributed by [the AP] in violation of the TBS embargo" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/10).

DERBY DAY: ESPN drew a 5.0 overnight cable rating for last night's Home Run Derby, down 2.0% from a 5.1 last year. The top market was St. Louis, which earned a 10.9 rating, followed by Boston and Milwaukee, which earned a 9.3 and 8.6 respectively (THE DAILY).  ESPN’s Jayson Stark appeared on SNY's "Daily News Live" yesterday, where he said the Home Run Derby “is way too long.  It’s a fun event and I don’t care how they want to do it, whether they should cut a round ... or they just want to cut out some of the small talk and babble that stretches this out. ... It would only be better if they made it shorter.”  SNY’s Gary Apple asked Stark, “Isn’t part of it for television and your network (ESPN), one of the reasons that it’s expanded and drawn out?”  Stark: “We love the event, there’s no doubt about that. ... But I don’t think we love the idea that it takes forever” (“Daily News Live,” SNY, 7/9).

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