Fox' Move To Add Pete Rose As An Analyst Could Help Draw Viewers To MLB Coverage
Former MLBer Pete Rose this season will serve "as a guest analyst" for Fox and FS1 MLB pregame shows and "will also appear on 'MLB Whiparound,' 'America's Pregame' and 'Fox Sports Live'" on FS1, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSPORTS.com. Fox officials said that the net is hiring Rose "for his on-air presence and that he will make for compelling television regardless of how one views his controversial past." The move comes at a time when Rose "has officially requested that new Commissioner Rob Manfred lift his lifetime ban from the sport." Fox "did not require the sport's permission to hire Rose." But network officials said that they made MLB "fully aware of their decision to audition Rose and then sign him to a contract." MLB Chief Communications Officer Pat Courtney said, "As a courtesy, Fox informed us that they were interviewing Pete Rose for an on-air studio position. The decision to hire on-air talent for its telecasts rests solely with Fox." Rose said that he is "not joining Fox with the idea that it will help him gain reinstatement." Fox Sports Exec VP/Production John Entz said that Rose "impressed network officials in an initial meeting, not only with his knowledge of the sport's history but also of today's game" (FOXSPORTS.com, 4/16). VARIETY's Brian Steinberg noted Rose's deal with Fox will keep him "in the studio, rather than broadcasting from a specific team stadium" (VARIETY.com, 4/18).
A BOOST FOR FS1? SI.com's Richard Deitsch wrote Fox' move is a "low-risk, high-reward move." Rose "does not have to carry the production but he’s a potentially compelling voice given his history and popularity with certain members of the public." There also will be a "heavy curiosity factor initially, and for a network that needs eyeballs (Fox Sports 1), that’s a good asset to have in-house" (SI.com, 4/19). In N.Y., Bill Madden wrote it is a "wonder why no network hired Rose as a studio analyst in all the years he’s been out of baseball before this." Madden: "Was it because they were afraid to cross Selig?"An MLB source on Saturday said that Fox made the hire "to bring extra fan attention to its broadcasts," and particularly FS1, which "struggled for ratings in its first year last season because so many viewers couldn’t find it" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/19). In Tampa, Tom Jones writes if Rose "really does speak his mind and can be critical in a humorous way, this hire could be a home run." But there is a "danger in that kind of analysis." Rose could come off as a "crotchety old man, talking about how everything was better in the old days." Jones: "No one wants to hear that" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 4/20).
TRIAL BALLOON: In Chicago, Ed Sherman noted the move to hire Rose "will prompt much speculation that Manfred will reinstate the 74-year-old." Given that leagues work closely with their broadcast partners, it is "unlikely Fox would have hired Rose if MLB had strong objections." Working on the telecasts "could be a way to gauge public reaction to his complete return to the game." The new job will be Rose's "closest association to MLB since being banned for life for betting on baseball" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/19).