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Financial Firm: MLB Owners Can Afford To Miss Whole Season

“They are literally sitting on billions of dollars.”

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AP

Do not fall for the line about most owners being poor or broke and the MLB Lockout being necessary for the league’s survival. The league has already indicated it is willing to miss all of April if the MLBPA doesn’t agree to its terms on a new collective bargaining agreement. Fitch Ratings recently released a report that shows owners can afford to miss a lot more baseball than that.

The report, which was issued last week, notes that owners would not be in financial dire straits even if the entire 2022 season were scrapped. They are literally sitting on billions of dollars.

Major League Baseball clubs can draw up to $2 billion from the A-rated MLB Club Trust Securitization and $1.25 billion from the MLB Facility Fund, which holds an A- rating. On top of that, the league holds $2.1 billion in debt from the two organizations.

Chris “Mad Dog” Russo has been very critical of writers siding with players in the negotiations. He said that group “should be ashamed of themselves” and singled out Jeff Passan of ESPN for knowing very little about these negotiations.

Russo has been honest. He recognizes that as an MLB Network employee, many will think he is delivering a message the owners have approved. However, he noted that as long as the lockout drags on, he will not be doing or getting paid for High Heat on MLB Network.

It is easy to point fingers about who is telling whose story when all fans have to go on is media reports. A financial report this damning to the owners’ public position is much harder to refute.

Fitch Ratings does note that team owners could not weather a lockout forever. An extended absence could “alienate the fan base and erode game attendance and viewership,” the report says. That would make it a near certainty that revenue from future rights deals and ticket sales would plummet.

Sports TV News

FOX Will Use Chris Fallica On Belmont Stakes Coverage

“While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.”

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The Bear will be more than just a college football presence when he moves to FOX. Chris Fallica wrapped his final duties for ESPN last week and is now headed to a new network and will tackle some new responsibilities.

Fallica’s new role at FOX will involve plenty of sports gambling content. Richard Deitsch of The Athletic reports that content will include horse racing.

“One Fox Sports source said look for him to appear on the Belmont Stakes coverage,” Deitsch wrote in his weekly media column.

Starting in 2023, horse racing’s Triple Crown will not be seen all in one place. While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.

How the network intends to use Chris Fallica on the broadcast is not clear. Given that he is coming to the network to contribute to gambling conversations, it is likely he would either be making picks or at least reviewing odds right up to the start of the race.

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Sports TV News

NBCUniversal CEO Expects Disney To Buy Company’s Hulu Stake

“Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal.”

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The Walt Disney Company owns 67% of Hulu. The other 33% is owned by NBCUniversal. The latter company doesn’t expect that to be the case forever.

“It’s worth a lot of money,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said at an investor conference earlier this week, “and I think there’s no indication that anything else is going to happen than Disney writing us a big check.”

Hulu is primarily a platform for movies and television shows. It is a major part of Disney’s deal with the NHL though. The streaming giant is part of the package of 103 games that are exclusive to ESPN and ABC. Hulu is also a live TV provider for many. The company’s Hulu Plus Live TV package had over 4 million subscribers as of the summer of 2022.

Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal. He credits sports and content migrated from Hulu as the reason Peacock has grown to 18 million paid subscriptions since September.

Deadline reports that if Disney does want to acquire NBCUniversal’s stake in Hulu, “the price could fluctuate but will be in the tens of billions of dollars.”

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Sports TV News

Greg Olsen Believes He and Kevin Burkhardt Can Handle Games ‘On Any Stage’

“Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

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Greg Olsen

Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen are on tap to call Super Bowl LVII in February, and Olsen told Front Office Sports he has the confidence to announce the game with no hesitations.

“If you’re asking me, I think Kevin and I have shown that we can handle a game on any stage – on any day. We just did it on Thanksgiving. We’ll do it again around Christmas. And obviously throughout the [NFL] Playoffs,” said Olsen. “So whatever decision they make. Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

“But as of now, I anticipate Kevin and I, the two of us, with Erin and Tom down on the sidelines, the four of us, broadcasting the Super Bowl in February in Arizona. Until I’m told otherwise, that’s how we’re proceeding.”

Olsen also told FOS he has negotiated a new contract with FOX Sports, but declined to share details. He is slated to be replaced on the top broadcast crew once Tom Brady ends his playing career. Brady will then begin a 10-year, $375 million contract to serve as the network’s top NFL game analyst and brand ambassador.

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