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MLB Network Going All-In With Winter Meetings Coverage

“You’re chasing news the entire time. We’re obviously trying to make sure everything we’re getting is accurate – that’s most important – because there can be a lot of false information out there.”

Derek Futterman

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For the first time in two offseasons, the Baseball Winter Meetings will commence, bringing the industry together before the holidays as roster construction and preparation for the season ahead take center stage, and MLB Network has planned dozens of hours of live coverage. 

Several of the sports biggest starts could be on the move, and several issues involved in the game’s pace of play and the future of the sport will be decided. All in all, MLB Network will bring fans 38 hours of live on-site programming from the Winter Meetings, which is being held from the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego.

The broadcast outlet’s robust team of hosts, analysts and insiders will report and analyze the latest breaking news, transactions and rumors, bringing fans the information they need to know about “our national pastime, all the time.”

Additionally, the network figures to welcome various guests from the baseball world onto its set and will also provide coverage of other industry events, including the reveal of the 2022 All-MLB Team and the inaugural MLB Draft Lottery.

“The Winter Meetings is a battle, but we want to own the week with our coverage,” said Doug Jaclin, coordinating producer of news at MLB Network. “You’re chasing news the entire time. We’re obviously trying to make sure everything we’re getting is accurate – that’s most important – because there can be a lot of false information out there.”

The baseball world has not been gathered under one roof since before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, accentuating the paramountcy of reconnecting with people and cultivating new relationships with those in the industry. After all, part of good journalism and reporting comes from being able to develop and maintain professional relationships with those involved in making decisions with the potential to shape the future of the game.

“You have to constantly balance the demands of your job every day and getting on the air with new material [while] also realizing that this is a profoundly important week to network and meet new people,” said MLB Network Insider Jon Morosi. “You probably sacrifice a lot of sleep during a week like this because there are only so many hours in the day.”

Morosi attended Harvard University with the intention of either working in law or education; however, he quickly gravitated towards the sports information department and kept statistics of various sporting events on campus. Around his sophomore year in college, he began writing for The Harvard-Crimson and has continued doing so for a wide variety of outlets, including the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Detroit Free Press and, eventually, as a national baseball writer for FOXSports.com.

Today, Morosi works with MLB Network and has worked hard to consolidate information to a format compatible to its mediums.

“You have to be able to synthesize the really key points that you’re trying to communicate to your audience and then speak them in a digestible way,” Morosi said. “That also involves a little bit of detail, but also pacing it out so that way the listener or the viewer can understand it without feeling as though they just sat through an hour-long lecture.”

“We’re able, at the network, to be totally immersed in baseball so we’re able to kind of formulate opinions and ideas and philosophies,” added Brian Kenny., host of MLB Now and other studio programming on MLB Network. “I’d rather try hard and get out a ton of information than just not do that. We like to have fun; we like to have laughs, but we also want to find out interesting things that a viewer would find interesting and fascinating.”

While breaking news and staying on top of everything in real time may be central to broadcast coverage at the Winter Meetings, the element of storytelling is at the root of effective journalism, keeping readers captivated and informed through all of the chaos. Storytelling within the parameters of a standard Major League Baseball game evidently differs from the practice during the offseason – yet the importance of establishing a setting, evoking imagery and communicating in a way tailored to your audience all remain central.

Perhaps no one better embodied what it means to be a storyteller than the late-Los Angeles Dodgers play-by-play announcer Vin Scully. Working with him during her time with Spectrum SportsNet LA, MLB Network host Alanna Rizzo implements what she learned from the Radio Hall of Fame member and 1982 Ford C. Frick Award recipient into her hosting style.

“I think he was such a man that was absolutely revered not just with Dodgers nation having been behind that microphone for 67 years, but also with baseball and sports in general,” Rizzo said. “He will never be replicated in the way that he went about a broadcast. I think the biggest thing I learned from Vin was to be yourself and really just tell a story and be conversational.”

Rizzo works on High Heat with Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo, longtime host of WFAN’s Mike and the Mad Dog and current host of Mad Dog Unleashed on SiriusXM Mad Dog Sports Radio and contributor to First Take on ESPN. Rizzo feels that High Heat, which is also simulcast on MLB Network Radio, is presented as a show built for radio and garners a specific type of audience – largely due to Russo’s uncanny ability to recall past events.

His effervescence and energy is hardly fabricated, for it is his genuine personality that is communicated especially when he welcomes guests on to the program, although he tends to lean more towards tradition in his opinions about the game. The Winter Meetings give both Rizzo and Russo the opportunity to interview veteran baseball personnel and budding superstars across the industry, and the dynamic of having a co-host who has frequently interviewed players helps modernize the program amid a crowded media landscape.

“I think today’s fans for the most part, especially if we want to move the game along and grab the attention and the audience of the younger generation, they want to hear from players; they don’t want to hear from analysts as much,” Rizzo said. “I think there’s certainly a place for our analysts, and there’s no better analysts in my opinion covering Major League Baseball than ours, but I think it’s also important to hear the perspective of the current player.”

Dan O’Dowd brings the perspective of a former general manager and baseball executive to the panel on MLB Tonight, providing fans insight about the gravity of the Winter Meetings amid the offseason. Following a stint as vice president of baseball operations and assistant general manager with the then-Cleveland Indians, O’Dowd nearly joined ESPN but decided he wanted to remain in the game. As a result, he was hired by the Colorado Rockies to be the team’s general manager, a role he served in for 15 years and made prominent decisions guiding the direction of the franchise.

“We really lost something not having the Winter Meetings,” O’Dowd said. “I think it’s the one time over the winter that we own the winter. Since the network’s inception, it’s taken that perspective for me to a completely different level. We really are nationally front and center because everybody wants an insight to roster development, trades [and] free agent signings. It’s just a fascinating part of the game and nothing will be as interesting as this particular week with everything that’s going on.”

A preponderance of communication today is mediated in scope, meaning that it takes place through some technological means including emailing, texting or talking over the phone. Yet there is an ostensible tangibility to face-to-face communication through its power to seamlessly blend credibility, emotion and logic into one’s parlance – indelible pillars to rhetoric and persuasion.

“It’s rare to have the entire industry in one spot,” Kenny explained. “You have baseball operations departments, managers, scouts; everybody in one place [and] I think [that] makes for a fascinating mix…. A lot of work can get done – I think we’ve learned this through the pandemic [that] there’s real value in physically being in one place in being in a spot where everyone can communicate face-to-face.”

Unlike during the baseball season when the structure is more predictable per se in terms of games and storylines, the Winter Meetings is very much sporadic in nature. News could break at any second, meaning that everyone involved needs to be prepared to discuss any possible topic related to the action – and have the right questions ready to go when welcoming a guest on set, often at a moment’s notice.

As a former host of SportsCenter and Baseball Tonight at ESPN, along with reporting in news earlier in his career, Kenny knows the value of comprehensive preparation and adaptability while also implementing his ability to interact with people.

“A lot of times you find out that day or just before the show who’s available; who can make it; who can’t make it,” Kenny said. “It’s last minute. As far as doing the prep, I try to get as familiar as I can with the free agent market and where there’s teams that have needs and where the free agent market has a surplus [and] where it has scarcity.”

It is a goal of the network to utilize the time it will be broadcasting live from the Winter Meetings to talk to people across the industry – whether they be owners; team presidents; general managers; managers; players, etc. The meetings are a genuine actualization of the activity that usually takes place from afar, but for these few days in the place referred to as “America’s Finest City,” the industry tries to take advantage of the in-person element underscoring the event’s return.

“We always want to have the team personnel visiting our set across all the shows,” Jaclin said. “You want to get a perspective from a manager or a general manager on where they think their team stands right now, where they need to improve and where they want to be different [from] the year before.”

It is fundamental, though, not to mislead an audience; therefore, one must be truthful with the information they know to be true with sensible aplomb. Conversely, one should disclose when there may be some ambiguity in reporting and/or may not completely know the facts of a situation.

After all, much of the industry watches MLB Network, according to Morosi, and through healthy relationships and periodic conversations with those connected in the industry, storylines can be reasonably posited, checked for accuracy and subsequently reported. This helps the network and its insiders extrapolate what may be going on behind closed doors, somewhat craving the seemingly insatiable propensity for access and information.

“I think it’s important to be a good steward of the information that you’ve got in front of you that you know to be accurate,” Morosi said. “I think that to me is one of the great challenges when things are happening really fast and everyone’s around you and stories are breaking.”

The nature of the conversations being had differs depending on one’s role, along with the longevity of certain relationships. O’Dowd has been involved in the game for many years and is looking forward to touching base with people rather than trying to find out the intricacies of negotiations and contents of germane conversations.

“It’s a lot of information to find out, but a lot of the time it’s really just saying hello; meeting a person; finding out what they’re like,” Kenny added. “It’s a chance for us to be face-to-face and they have a chance to tell me what they think of my work. It goes both ways.”

“It’s very different now because with the onset of technology and smartphones and Twitter, there’s not as much face-to-face with front offices – but we still have everything down to the minute of what’s happening,” Rizzo added. “People are just ready for baseball to start again and this is where at least there’s some juice.”

Rizzo has her undergraduate degree in international business at the University of Colorado Boulder, and had what she calls an “epiphany” shortly after her graduation where she discovered her passion for sports reporting. Because of this, she decided to return to school to earn her master’s degree in journalism and began working with various local stations.

As she continued to refine her skills, she joined ROOT Sports Rocky Mountain as an in-game reporter and host for its live game broadcasts and surrounding coverage for the Colorado Rockies. Now in her second stint with MLB Network after departing in 2012 to join Spectrum SportsNet LA’s coverage of the Los Angeles Dodgers, she has had to use social media through it all – and is vigilant in what she publicizes on its multiple platforms.

“I think it’s a positive tool but you have to be very careful,” she said. “I really caution young people who want to get into the industry about their social media use and what they post on there because it lives forever.”

The Winter Meetings though, through everyone being present, is indicative of a time to look up from phone screens, shed aloofness and relish in interaction free of technology’s limits. Morosi, an insider himself, recognizes that he competes against many other reporters year-round to obtain and subsequently disseminate accurate and precise information. Just as he watches and follows other reporters as a mode of “defense,” he needs to swing for the fences and play “offense,” especially over the next several days in San Diego, Calif.

“The reality is you can’t have every scoop,” Morosi said. “There are too many talented people out there and too many great reporters who are going to have the information. I think it’s a matter of verifying whatever it is that you’re putting out there, and on the intake, you have a good way of collating things whether it’s on Twitter or other services to make sure that the information that you’re bringing in is timely and accurate and current – and also not overwhelming.”

“Be very enterprising and very opportunistic when the chance occurs that you have a general manager in front of you or an agent in front of you,” he added. “….You should never let an opportunity go by to ask a question of someone who is in front of you and in position to make a decision.”

Aside from transactional moves being made on the baseball diamond, the Winter Meetings also serve as a place for aspiring professionals to meet with prospective employers. There have been instances where broadcasters get their start through an interaction at the Winter Meetings, meaning it is imperative they communicate in a professional manner and make an appropriate first impression conducive to success.

“I do pay attention to the young men and women that want to get in the industry that are professional and go about it in what I believe to be the right way,” Rizzo said. “Speaking in emojis and shorthand and ‘L.O.L.’ and no grammar and no punctuation; that doesn’t fly with me because in journalism, you have to know how to write. You have to have proper punctuation, grammar and subject-verb agreement, and I think that gets lost because of social media [and] because of the way we communicate now.”

“You should be immersed in the business of baseball if you want to be in it – have an understanding of it – but also be well-read in things not baseball,” Kenny added. “Just to have people skills and to be well-read; to have a good vocabulary; to have good reference points to understand how things work; to understand how people work…. You still have to bring something to the table, [and] those are still the fundamental skills of reading, writing and being able to articulate your ideas.”

A common maxim noted around media is that a career can be made in who you know more than what you know. Indeed, there are many people looking to work professionally in sports media, and differentiating factors that could determine whether or not someone lands a job could very well come down to skills outside of media and personal conduct.

“The depth and the quality of your relationships will be the depth and quality of the work that you produce with the people you work with,” O’Dowd said. “It’s about establishing authentic relationships with people as deep as you possibly can, and then being respectful of those relationships when you work together to try to put out a product. That’s the best for everyone involved, no different [from] working in a front office.

The network will feature its studio programs from dawn until dusk including Hot Stove, High Heat, MLB Now, Intentional Talk and the multiple Emmy Award-winning MLB Tonight. The studio programming will welcome guests from around the world of baseball and also enterprise and react to news as it happens. Today’s live coverage will begin at 11 a.m. EST with Hot Stove and conclude with MLB Tonight from 9-11 p.m, and includes the unveiling of the 2022 All-MLB Team at 8 p.m.

BSM Writers

Beyond The Mask: Henrik Lundqvist Embraced 2nd Career in Sports Media

“It’s not a coincidence you see a lot of goalies working [on] panels and analyzing the game because that’s a huge part of playing in goal.”

Derek Futterman

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Plucking the strings of an acoustic guitar, Henrik Lundqvist found himself beneath the bright lights once again, poised to put on a worthy performance. Just as he aimed to stop pucks from going in the net as the star goaltender of the New York Rangers for 15 seasons, Lundqvist sought to captivate viewers as half of a musical duo featuring former NHL forward Paul Bissonnette.

Their performance of “Good Riddance” by Green Day was in tribute to Rick Tocchet, a former NHL on TNT studio analyst who recently departed the network to serve as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks.

Lundqvist serves as a studio analyst for TNT’s coverage of the NHL, breaking down players and teams throughout the broadcast and bringing his own unique style to the set. His pursuit of a post-playing career in sports media was no guarantee from the moment he retired in August 2021; in fact, he never intended to stop playing the game and competing for a Stanley Cup championship at that time.

During the 2019-20 season, Lundqvist had lost playing time to young goaltenders Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev, and by the year’s end, his deal was bought out by the team. In an effort to continue playing, Lundqvist signed a contract with the Washington Capitals – marking the first time in his NHL career that he would not step between the pipes for the Rangers.

Lundqvist never played a game for the team though, as it was discovered in a medical exam that he would need open-heart surgery to replace his aortic valve while also having an aortic root and ascending aortic replacement. Less than two months after the successful five-hour operation, he was back on the ice rehabbing and attempting to make a full recovery – but a few months in, he began to feel unexpected chest pain. Following a medical checkup, Lundqvist was told he had inflammation around his heart. It was a significant setback that required him to step off the ice, take off his goaltender equipment and rest for several months.

After discussions with his family and friends, Lundqvist determined that the risk of taking the ice outweighed the rewards and officially stepped away from the game. Rather than conjuring hypothetical scenarios wherein he did not experience the misfortune and played for the Capitals, Lundqvist looked to the future amid the ongoing global pandemic and thought about how he could best enjoy his retirement.

“I was just mentally in a very good place,” Lundqvist said. “I didn’t have a choice; I guess that makes it easier sometimes when the decision is made because you can’t go back-and-forth – ‘Should I?’ ‘Should I not?’ Yeah, I wanted to play but it was just not meant to be for me.”

Before any definitive resolution on his future endeavors was made though, the Rangers announced that the team would retire Lundqvist’s No. 30 in a pregame ceremony during the 2021-22 season, making him just the 11th player bestowed that honor in franchise history. As a five-time NHL All-Star selection, 2011 Vezina Trophy winner, and holder of numerous franchise records, Lundqvist had the accolades to merit this profound distinction.

Moreover, he was an important component in growing the game of hockey and contributing to the greater community, serving as the official spokesperson for the Garden of Dreams Foundation and founder of the Henrik Lundqvist Foundation. He also was a two-time recipient of the organization’s prestigious Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award, honoring the player “who goes above and beyond the call of duty.”

Throughout the night, attendees regaled Lundqvist with chants of “Hen-rik!” and were treated to flashbacks of some of his memorable career moments. The night was of monumental importance for Lundqvist, during which he expressed his gratitude to the Rangers’ organization, former teammates and fans. Then, Lundqvist — referred to as “The King” — promptly took his place among team legends beneath the concave ceiling of “The World’s Most Famous Arena.”

“When I look back at my career, I know, to me, it was all about preparation; how I practiced and how I prepared for each game at practice,” Lundqvist said. “There’s no regrets, and I hope people, when they think about how I played, [know] that it was 100% heart and commitment to the game.”

Before this ceremony though, Lundqvist and Rangers owner James Dolan had held several meetings with one another. The purpose of these conversations was to determine the best way for Lundqvist to remain involved with the team, its fans, and the community. In the end, he was named as a lead studio analyst on MSG Networks’ broadcasts of New York Rangers hockey before the start of the 2021-22 season: the start of his foray in sports media.

This past summer, Lundqvist negotiated a new deal with Madison Square Garden Sports and Madison Square Garden Entertainment in which he maintained his in-studio responsibilities while increasing involvement in other areas of its sports and entertainment ventures. In this new role, Lundqvist supports the business operations for both companies, assisting in digital content development, alumni relations, and partner and sponsor activities.

When Lundqvist is not in the studio or the office, he can often be found at Madison Square Garden taking in New York Rangers hockey, New York Knicks basketball, or one of the arena’s renowned musical performances. Usually, when he is in attendance, he is shown on the arena’s center-hung video board as an “NYC Celebrity” and receives a thunderous ovation from the crowd.

“The network is just part of it, but it feels great to come there,” Lundqvist said of Madison Square Garden. “Every time I go there – to see the people that I’ve known for so long – but also I love that place; I love The Garden. I think the energy [and] the variety of things that happen there is something I really appreciate. It feels really good to be a part of that.”

Sitting alongside former teammate and studio analyst Steve Valiqutte and sportscaster John Giannone, Lundqvist appears in the MSG Networks studios, located across the street from the arena, for select New York Rangers games. From the onset, he brought his allure and expertise to the set and appealed to viewers – so much so that national networks quickly began to take notice.

“I enjoy watching hockey [and] talking hockey, but the main thing to me is the team; the people that you work with,” Lundqvist said. “The guys on the panel [and the] crew behind. I really enjoy that part of it and having a lot of fun off-camera.”

One month later, Lundqvist was on his first national broadcast for the NHL on TNT where he and Bissonnette famously performed a cover of “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica that went viral on social media. It had been known that Lundqvist was a musician, famously performing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in his Rangers uniform to celebrate the end of the 2012-13 NHL lockout.

In fact, during his retirement ceremony, the Rangers gifted him with a custom-made guitar painted by David Gunnarsson, the same artist who used to paint Lundqvist’s goalie masks.

Aside from occasional music performances, Lundqvist brings an esoteric base of knowledge to the NHL on TNT panel as its only goaltender. Whether it be through player breakdowns, interviews, or dialogue with other analysts, Lundqvist has a perspective to which few professional hockey players can relate. There are various goaltenders among local studio panels surrounding live hockey game broadcasts, and Lundqvist is in a unique situation with MSG Networks in that he and Valiquette are both former goaltenders. Yet on Turner Sports’ national coverage, he is the only voice speaking to this different part of the game.

“It’s not a coincidence you see a lot of goalies working [on] panels and analyzing the game because that’s a huge part of playing in goal,” Lundqvist explained. “Yes, you need to stop the puck, but a huge part of being a goalie is analyzing what’s going on. We can never really dictate the play so you need to analyze what’s happening right in front of you.”

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In broadcasting at both the local and national level, Lundqvist is cognizant of the differences in each network’s studio programs. Lundqvist says appearing on the MSG Networks studio panel is more about being direct with the viewer, whereas the NHL on TNT views its panel as being conversational in nature. With Turner Sports, Lundqvist also asks his colleagues about the different teams around the league since he is most familiar with the Rangers both as a former player and studio analyst.

“I’m closer to the Rangers; I see more of what’s going on,” Lundqvist stated. “When you work [national] games, maybe you focus in on teams on the West Coast or [part] of the league you don’t see as often. You try to talk to the other guys on the panel and the crew and figure out things that are interesting about those teams.”

Hockey is a team sport, and Lundqvist felt grateful to play with his teammates and face his competitors over the years. Now as an analyst though, it is his job to analyze their games and critique them when necessary; however, he does not try to be excessively critical.

Lundqvist knows the trials and tribulations associated with the sport and can relate to scenarios many players face on a nightly basis. Therefore, he thinks about his own experience before giving an opinion, especially a critique, instantiating it with comprehensible, recondite knowledge and/or by recounting a similar situation.

“I’d much rather give them positive feedback obviously because I know it is a tough game,” Lundqvist said, “and sometimes it might look like an easy mistake, but if you can give the viewer a better explanation of why he did that, they might have a different view of that mistake.”

Now metaphorically being beyond the goalie mask, Lundqvist’s vision of the game has evidently shifted. He discerns just how intense the schedule is and the rapid pace of the game, axioms he was aware of while playing but inherently avoided thinking about. He has implemented his refined viewpoint of the game accordingly into his analysis, simultaneously utilizing the mindset and savvy he cultivated on the ice. It is, quite simply, a balancing act.

“I think people can be pretty quick to jump on guys and critique them,” Lundqvist said. “That’s where maybe you take an extra look and try to understand why it happened and give those reasons. I think that’s where it helps if you played the game [for] a long time and just love the game [because] you have a pretty good understanding of why guys react a certain way.”

The challenge tacitly embedded in the jobs of most studio analysts – Lundqvist’s included – is in presenting the information to the audience in a manner through which it learns without being confused. It is a delicate craft that takes time and genuine understanding to master, especially related to promulgating hockey analytics as Valiquette does on MSG Networks and within his company, Clear Sight Analytics.

“There’s a lot of educated viewers out there, but there’s also a lot of people that maybe don’t watch as much hockey,” Lundqvist said, “so you want to find that middle ground where you kind of educate both sides.”

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By broadcasting both locally and nationally in addition to working in a specially-designed business operations role, Lundqvist is staying around the rink in his retirement while facilitating the growth of hockey. Despite the profusion of young talent, dynamic action and jaw-dropping plays, viewership of the sport on ESPN and TNT’s linear channels has dropped 22% from last season, according to a report by Sports Business Journal.

For Lundqvist though, he does not feel much has changed from playing regarding his responsibility to advance the reach and appeal of the sport. He played professionally for 20 years, beginning his career in his home country of Sweden, primarily in the Swedish Elite League (SEL). In the 2004-05 season, his final campaign before arriving in New York City, Lundqvist had won the award for most valuable player. Furthermore, he was recognized as the best goalie and best player, leading Frölunda HC to its second Elitserien championship in three seasons.

His NHL debut came five years after he was selected in the seventh round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Rangers but unlike many rookies over the years, he came polished and prepared to embrace the lights of Broadway. Following an injury to starting goaltender Kevin Weekes, Lundqvist was inserted into the starting lineup and, from that moment on, virtually never came out.

By the end of his first year, he had been named to the NHL All-Rookie Team and was a Vezina Trophy finalist for best goaltender. Additionally, he remains the only goaltender to begin his NHL career with seven consecutive 30-plus win seasons.

“I think the league is doing a great job of growing the game,” Lundqvist said. “In the end, it comes down to the product and right now, it’s a great product. I feel really good about, the best way I can, to promote the game [by] talking about it, but… it feels like I’ve been doing that for 20 years.”

One means through which Lundqvist attempts to grow the game is within the studio demos he performs with the NHL on TNT, displaying different facets of the game in a technical manner. The show also embraces the characteristics of their analysts and implements them in lighthearted segments, such as zamboni races, putting competitions, Swedish lessons and, of course, musical performances.

“I’m huge on mindset and the pressure,” Lundqvist said. “I love to talk about that type of stuff and give the viewer a better understanding of what goes through their heads. In terms of personality, I don’t know if I can say [that] I’m a serious guy because I love to have fun and laugh and do fun things.”

Lundqvist thoroughly enjoys what he is doing both locally and nationally, and he ensures he surrounds himself with people he wants to be around. There are plenty of other broadcast opportunities for former hockey players, such as moving into the booth as a color commentator or between the benches as a rinkside reporter. At this moment though, he is more focused on being immersed in his current roles, performing them to the best of his ability while ensuring he allocates time to spend with friends and family.

“I see myself more as an analyst in the studio more than traveling around and being in the rink,” he said. “I think that’s another thing with the schedule; it works really well with my schedule to have one or two commitments with the networks, but then I have other things going on in my life that I commit to.”

Plenty of comparisons can be drawn between playing professional hockey and covering the sport from the studio in terms of preparation and synergy. Yet the end result is not as clearly defined since “winning” in television is quantifiably defined as generating ratings and revenue. Undoubtedly, Lundqvist is focused on doing what he can to bolster hockey’s popularity; however, he also wants to enjoy this new phase of his career being around the game he loves.

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“In sports, you win or you lose,” Lundqvist explained. “With TV, you want to be yourself [and] you want to get your point out – but at the same time, if you do it at the same time you’re having a good time, I feel like that’s good TV.”

Once their careers conclude, many athletes think about pursuing a post-playing career and oftentimes end up taking on a role in sports broadcasting. On MSG Networks alone, there are plenty of former players who take part in studio coverage on live game broadcasts, such as Martin Biron of the Buffalo Sabres, Bryce Salvador of the New Jersey Devils, and Matt Martin of the New York Islanders. At the national level, Turner Sports employs Paul Bissonnette, Anson Carter, and Wayne Gretzky for its studio broadcasts, while ESPN’s top studio crew includes Mark Messier and Chris Chelios.

All of these former professional hockey players had an obligation to regularly speak with media members, answering questions about games and the season at large. Lundqvist maintained a professional relationship with journalists and beat reporters, and he most enjoyed taking questions when the team was doing well. Regardless of what the end result of a game was though, he had a responsibility to divulge his thoughts and, in turn, be subject to criticism and/or negative feedback.

His stellar career and persona all came from emanating a passion for the game – and it continues to manifest itself beyond the television screen. Listening to those passionate about the game discuss it usually engenders euphony and lucidity to viewers, analogous to the sound of the puck hitting the pads or entering the glove. It is a timbre Lundqvist created 27,076 times throughout his NHL career (regular season and playoffs) in preventing goals, and one he now aims to explain en masse.

“The reason why I kept going to the rink and put all the hours in was because I really enjoyed it,” Lundqvist said. “If you decide to go into media or whatever it might be, I think the bottom line is [that] you have to enjoy it and make sure you have good people around you.”

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BSM Writers

Should the NBA Nationalize Local TV Rights Like MLS?

The NBA’s upcoming rights negotiations will be this transformational idea’s first testing grounds.

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Diamond Sports has been anything but a diamond in the sports world. As subscribers leave cable and satellite for streaming services, companies are dropping RSNs nationwide because they are too expensive to carry. This has caused an impending bankruptcy for the company, which owns the local rights to dozens of sports teams nationwide. It is also putting the NBA, NHL, and MLB at major financial risk. 

In the short term, it is known that teams will still broadcast on their RSNs even if they aren’t getting the paychecks they were promised in previous rights deals. This will affect teams’ ability to pay players and could even create an unfair advantage among the haves of the sports world like the Yankees and Lakers and the have-nots. The NFL doesn’t face the same problems that the other leagues are facing because its rights have been nationalized.

With the NFL’s continued television dominance, college conferences also bundling up games together for more money, and the MLS guaranteeing themselves television revenue after packaging local and national rights together, could we see the other leagues follow suit? It is an option that is much easier said than done but it seems like we are moving closer to it becoming reality. 

The NBA’s upcoming rights negotiations will be this transformational idea’s first testing grounds.

The biggest problem the NBA and other leagues would face are that the local rights to all of its teams don’t expire at the same time. If the league were to sign a deal that included giving all local rights to a streamer, the amount which the league was getting paid would be very unique year after year. It would be crazy for a streamer to pay a huge chunk of money to the NBA all at once if the number of teams they have local rights to changes every year.

It would also be insane to pay an astronomical amount if the streamer is only getting the local rights to small-market teams like the Cavs and the Pistons. A major market team like the Lakers doesn’t renew their local rights until 2032. We’re still in 2023. How does that affect the league’s operating costs? 

The NBA would also have to figure out whether teams whose rights don’t expire yet deserve to be included in the pot of money garnered from selling local rights to a streamer. Whether they are or they aren’t, does it put each team at different competitive advantages and/or disadvantages when trying to acquire free agents or front-office personnel?

One of the most interesting puzzles to figure out is what influence a league owner like Washington’s Ted Leonsis has in this potential measure when all is said and done. Leonsis just acquired complete control of the regional sports network — currently named NBC Sports Washington — that broadcasts Wizards and Capitals games for millions of dollars, although the exact amount remains undisclosed.

What does Leonsis do with his network if his team’s games can no longer air there? Can his team opt out of participating in a potential league offering? Or if the games continue to air on his network but are simulcasted locally on the streamer that wins local rights on a national scale, does the streamer have the ability to pay less money for rights?

If so, does that make the deal as lucrative for the NBA? And what does that mean for retransmission fees that cable companies like Comcast pay to Leonsis and other RSNs they’re still carrying?

The league will face a similar problem with the Lakers, Bulls, Knicks and other franchises that either wholly own or partially own a part of the RSNs where they broadcast their games. 

I don’t have the answers to any of these questions which is why they are written here in this column. Unfortunately for the leagues, they don’t have the answers either. But if the NBA figures out a way to nationalize their product even more and make streaming games more appealing by ending local blackouts, it’ll benefit the game more than it hurts the game. 

NBA, NHL, and MLB games are still some of the highest-rated programs locally in many markets when you look at how they rate vs. other cable and broadcast offerings. But at this point, the ability to charge everyone for a program that only ten percent of subscribers are watching is a losing business proponent.

The leagues should start from scratch and sell a mass package of games for maximum profit. It gives fans a more centralized location to watch their favorite teams and puts the leagues on a much more steady path than where they could be headed sooner rather than later.

Diamond in the rough to sparkling jewel of light? Only time will tell.

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BSM Writers

Do You Have Affirmations Of Gratitude?

“We are told to be grateful for what we have and remember it could be worse. That feels like a really low bar, right?”

Jeff Caves

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Having gratitude for your life is all the rage. If you, like me, have trouble starting your day with positive affirmations and maintaining a positive outlook about your job, read on! 

We are told to be grateful for what we have and remember it could be worse. That feels like a really low bar, right? Here is another version. Try a few affirmations of gratitude instead.

“I HAVE A JOB.”

With interest rates rising, inflation increasing, and spending down; corporations are laying people off. PayPal laid off 7% of its entire workforce. Amazon let 18,000 go. Alphabet (Google) said goodbye to 12,000 jobs. Radio sales managers need to hire people like you – experienced sellers with a track record of bringing home the bacon. 

I AM A PROBLEM SOLVER.”

You solve a problem for your company when it comes to revenue. You know people, and you sell advertising better than anything they can come up with…so far. 

Yes, they are trying to replace you, but Zoom Info reports iHeart’s self-serve spot buying service,  AdBuilder, is doing under 5 million in business. You have time to solidify your value. Be happy you are the rainmaker. 

I WORK IN THE PEOPLE BUSINESS.”

Sports talk radio is the ultimate companion to millions of listeners. They aren’t robots, and your stations improve their lives by talking about what they care about 24/7. Celebrate selling access to callers, Twitter followers and FANS who go to games. You also get to work with local celebrities that everybody knows but you know best. We all need a connection to other people and want to be seen and heard. 

“I GET TO CHANGE HOW I FEEL ABOUT MYSELF.”

In this job, you determine your value, feelings about your work, and who you work with. You get to set a strategy and talk to the businesspeople you want to help and do business with. It’s like running your own business with a tremendous support staff. Try to do it independently, and you will appreciate accounting, traffic, production, and sales assistance. Those wins produce deposits in your bank account.  

I HAVE COMPETITION!”

That format competitor across the street does things differently and sometimes better than you or tries to imitate you and looks terrible. They motivate you to beat them to a new account or put a moat around your best clients so they can’t be touched. They keep you sharp and willing to try new things. Good competition schemes to take money from your station, and your management needs you to protect them. And they also provide a place for you to work one day. The FTC wants to eliminate non-competes so you can walk across the street this year.  

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Barrett Media Writers

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