VARIETY's Todd Spangler noted ESPN is "looking to expand digital reach across Facebook, under a new deal to distribute exclusive digital shows and content" on the Facebook Watch platform. At launch, ESPN’s Facebook Watch lineup "includes additional segments from 'Always Late With Katie Nolan' ... exclusive versions of college-football 'Countdown to GameDay' and 'Fantasy Focus Live,' and 'The People’s MMA Show,'" a weekly series about fighters. ESPN also will engage with fans "via Watch Parties, polls, or live talent Q&As" (VARIETY.com, 9/23).
STEPPING AWAY: In N.Y., Andrew Marchand notes MSG Network's Al Trautwig is "taking a personal leave of absence." Trautwig is "expected to return to his Knicks and Rangers hosting duties at some point during the regular season, though an exact date is undetermined." It is "unknown what issue Trautwig is dealing with." It is also "undetermined how MSG Network will fill Trautwig’s role during the regular season, but Bill Pidto -- who already does Knicks and Rangers -- figures to be even more in the mix" (N.Y. POST, 9/24).
ON SCREEN: In St. Louis, Dan Caesar notes as the Cardinals' quest for the NL Central title "reaches its apex this week," a "key game in their push won't be on a conventional television station." Tomorrow's away game against the D-backs game is the last in a "package of 13 contests this season that MLB has sold to YouTube." There will be "no telecast" on FS Midwest. Former MLBer Kyle Lohse will be on the call, joining play-by-play announcer Scott Braun and analyst Dan Plesac (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 9/24).