Eric Fisher of Sports Business Daily reports on the sports TV honchos talking about the business yesterday at the ‘14 NeuLion Sports Media & Technology Conference in New York.
Some interesting observations. However, this one caught my eye:
Levy, Freer and Lazarus, each of whom work with MLB, all lauded incoming Commissioner Rob Manfred and said they expect him to be open-minded in working with the sport’s TV partners, particularly with regard to pace-of-play issues. “I want to give Bud the due he deserves,” Levy said. “He’s done a great job leading the sport for a long time, and he’s given Rob a tremendous foundation from which to build. But I think Rob will be more apt to figure out ways to work with TV partners, giving us more access to players. He’ll be open to a lot of ideas. I think he’ll be open to what Randy and I need to do with our businesses.”
Indeed, while the network sports honchos have been reluctant to say it publicly, they have to be pressuring MLB behind the scenes about the dreadful pace of these games. The networks have been showing the equivalent of 3 1/2-hour movies that should be 2 1/2 hours. The long games don’t make for appealing TV, and that’s reflected in the declining ratings.
With the networks investing billions of dollars in TV rights, you can be sure Manfred will be “open to a lot of ideas.” Expect a few of them to be implemented next year.