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Saturday, January 23, 2021

MASN cutting on-air talent, reportedly slashing pregame and postgame shows for Orioles and Nationals

According to The Athletic, MASN is dumping pregame and postgame shows for the two teams, and is also cutting on-air staff covering both teams. Britt Ghiroli’s report notes that among those let go are Mike Bordick, Tom Davis, Rick Dempsey, Jim Hunter, Dave Johnson, and most notably, Gary Thorne. Davis, Dempsey, Hunter, and Thorne weren’t part of the team’s broadcast plans in 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns, though Thorne eventually came to an agreement to return remotely in a limited capacity for 2020. Interestingly, The Athletic’s article about Thorne’s return pointed to a contract dispute, rather than the pandemic, as the reason he wasn’t involved in broadcasts.

Cuts on the Nationals side are still unclear at this point, though the team generally has had a smaller amount of personnel covering the team in previous seasons. For reference: the Orioles website lists 19 broadcasters for the 2020 season (including the six reportedly let go), while the Nationals website lists 11 (half of which are radio).

Furthermore, MASN plans to slash pregame and postgame studio coverage for both teams. As opposed to the studio style format, coverage will be 15 minutes before or after the game, featuring the in-game talent (AKA, the game broadcasters). If the two teams want their previous level of coverage, they’ll reportedly have to pay for it on their own.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 23, 2021 at 02:52 PM | 30 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: masn, nationals, orioles

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   1. asinwreck Posted: January 23, 2021 at 04:24 PM (#6001381)
Makes sense to have the media outlet run the same way as the team on the field.
   2. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 23, 2021 at 05:02 PM (#6001386)
I mean, do the pregame and postgame segments really add anything?
   3. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: January 23, 2021 at 05:27 PM (#6001391)
They do when the team's winning. Too bad about Davis and Dempsey, and I assume that the game broadcasters will still be there during the actual games.
   4. Jay Seaver Posted: January 23, 2021 at 07:43 PM (#6001403)
the Orioles website lists 19 broadcasters for the 2020 season (including the six reportedly let go), while the Nationals website lists 11 (half of which are radio)


That seems like a lot, even including the pre/post-game teams. We had the one year in Boston where there were something like 15 guys doing some radio, but that was a kind of awful outlier.
   5. The Yankee Clapper Posted: January 23, 2021 at 08:51 PM (#6001409)
Seems like penny pinching that won’t come close to offsetting the fair market value for the Nationals broadcast rights, once MASN has to actually pay that
   6. Pirate Joe Posted: January 23, 2021 at 09:48 PM (#6001416)
I mean, do the pregame and postgame segments really add anything?


I would say no, but aren't they really cheap vehicles to be able to sell more advertising? How much does it actually cost to have a couple guys in a studio doing a game preview or showing highlights of the game that just ended?

It appears they have something like 40 or 50 people on the payroll for shows that two people could do just as well at.

   7. Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: January 23, 2021 at 10:35 PM (#6001424)
15 people on-air is hard to fathom, really.

The Dodgers used to have JUST Vin Scully, Ross Porter, and Jerry Doggett for both TV and radio and pre- and post-game, and later they swapped Rick Monday for Jerry Doggett, but it was still just 3 people doing both TV and radio for ~40 years up until 2004, and after they dumped Ross Porter they had basically 5 people for years after that.

More recently they have Charlie Steiner and Rick Monday on radio, and Joe Davis and Orel Hershisher on TV, with a bit of Nomar Garciaparra and Tim Neverett, which is just 6 people. The Dodgers also have Jaime Jarrin and Fernando doing Spanish-language broadcasting. Does MASN do that?

The A's have Ray Fosse, Vince Cottroneo, Ken Korach, Glen Kuiper, with a bit of Coco Crisp and Roxy Bernstein, and Chris Townshend doing the pre- and post-game on the radio. On TV they have had Dallas Braden doing field reporting sometimes, but he's really just a luxury item, if sometimes a plus.
   8. Howie Menckel Posted: January 23, 2021 at 10:55 PM (#6001426)
post-game radio shows fascinate me.

well, not the shows, at all - but that they exist.

so I skip a NY/NJ ballgame and flip on local sports talk radio as I go to run an errand.

and 45 minutes after the game ends, they are STILL talking on the post-game.

I don't even get it for football, but at least there with only 16 games, and the team's fortunes do shift with most weeks.

as for the other sports?

the Nets are pretty interesting right now off the trade for Harden. I can see... maybe 15 minutes of postgame for them.
   9. Jay Seaver Posted: January 23, 2021 at 11:52 PM (#6001427)
aren't they really cheap vehicles to be able to sell more advertising? How much does it actually cost to have a couple guys in a studio doing a game preview or showing highlights of the game that just ended?


Plus, these places have 24 hours to fill, and what else are you going to run in the 6pm-7pm hour before gametime, or the hour afterwards? Reruns of the local SportsCenter knockoff that was probably taped at 10pm the previous night? Some high school sports event that might run too long? Syndicated minor-league wrestling? Simulcast of an AM station's call-in show? None of those are likely better than the pre and post-game show, and it's probably not a whole lot more expensive to produce 90 minutes before/after (like NESN does on occasion) than 30 minutes.
   10. flournoy Posted: January 24, 2021 at 12:33 AM (#6001428)
I think the target audience of pre-game and post-game shows are people who just happen to be somewhere where there's a TV tuned in to the local Fox Sports affiliate. Like at a gym, for example. Where you might casually pay attention to it in between sets, just because it's there.
   11. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: January 24, 2021 at 09:32 AM (#6001445)
I'm guessing MASN has new middle managers, who would told to "cut costs!" and "clean house!" so that the top execs could afford that extra beach house.
   12. bfan Posted: January 24, 2021 at 02:23 PM (#6001470)
I would be curious how many broadcasters and in studio people teams carried 20 years ago. It seems like a lot of employment bloat in this area of the production. This is true especially since everyone watching can immediately access every piece of data on every player, on the smart phone they are holding.

Do I really need a person being paid $100,000 a year to tell me that Enrico gives 100% on every play and that Eric cannot hit left handers, or even better, the sideline reporter breathlessly telling me that Drew limped off the field and went to the locker room, when I just saw Drew limp off the field.
   13. McCoy Posted: January 25, 2021 at 09:17 AM (#6001550)
In the old days of WGN there was no pre and post game show. Harry and Steve would get about 7 minutes before the game to tell you about the matchup and whatever amount of time it took to get to :30 or :00 after the game. Rain delays is where you'd get a lot of commentary
   14. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: January 25, 2021 at 09:56 AM (#6001557)
Like anything else the pre and post game shows are only as the good as the people running them. The Red Sox do a generally decent job. The primary host (Tom Caron) is a company man all the way but he's the classic "local celebrity." People like him a lot, he's affable, amusing, willing to be critical but not so critical anyone gets angry. Then they rotate a bunch of players as his sidekicks. Rice and Lyons get a lot of duty and then a bunch of other guys rotate through based on (presumably) availability. When he wasn't doing color on the broadcasts Eckersley was one, Wakefield another. When the Sox are playing well it's usually an entertaining watch and if they aren't well, why spend more time dissecting bad baseball.
   15. Der-K's emotional investment is way up Posted: January 25, 2021 at 10:23 AM (#6001564)
Was there a recent thread about some of the other penny pinching moves the O's (not MASN) have explored or engaged in - like asking players to defer some of their salaries or replacing relatively inexpensive coaches? No bueno stuff.
   16. donlock Posted: January 25, 2021 at 04:18 PM (#6001682)
I doubt the Orioles paid all 19 of the on air talent $100,000 salaries. Probably many are free-lance or part-timers. The basic job of talking on air and filling time for many ads can be filled by newcomers as the team did last summer.Gary Thorne probably makes $1 million plus a season. Is he worth that to a team with budget issues? The newcomers who worked the games in the summer seemed fine to me, some more appealing than others.

I prefer a variety of hosts to listening to Mike Bordick and Rick Dempsey for several games in a row, making the same observations.
   17. . Posted: January 25, 2021 at 04:45 PM (#6001686)
In the old days of WGN there was no pre and post game show. Harry and Steve would get about 7 minutes before the game to tell you about the matchup and whatever amount of time it took to get to :30 or :00 after the game. Rain delays is where you'd get a lot of commentary


There wasn't the shelf space for the inventory then. As the shelf space has grown, so too has the inventory -- much of it highly inferior -- to fill it.

(If memory serves, old school WGN called it "The Leadoff Man" and it was more like 15 minutes -- but memory might not serve. Lou Boudreau I thought hosted it in pre-Harry days.)
   18. Jesse Barfield's Right Arm Posted: January 25, 2021 at 04:52 PM (#6001687)
That does seem like a lot of "talent" for one game. In comparison the Phillies, the sole team in a much bigger market, let go Jim Jackson, who did around 1.5 hrs of pre- and post-game on radio and called three innings a game. It's possible he's being replaced by a cheaper option (JJ is also the Flyers TV play-by-play guy, so he'll be alright), but the Phillies are cutting bone, not fat, right now.
   19. . Posted: January 25, 2021 at 05:06 PM (#6001689)
Do people actually literally watch an 30-60 minute pregame, a 3-4 hour game, and a 30-60 minute postgame 162 times per season? How many people actually do that? It can't be many, and it really, really, really shouldn't be many.
   20. Swoboda is freedom Posted: January 25, 2021 at 05:39 PM (#6001692)
Not many people watch, but the regional sports networks have very low ratings and only really draw people for the games. If you can catch them for 1/2 hour early or stay a little longer, it makes a difference.
   21. Tom Nawrocki Posted: January 25, 2021 at 05:46 PM (#6001695)
My guess is that the vast majority of the people watching the postgame show fall into two categories:

1. People who missed most of the game and want to see the highlights
2. People trying to get the waitress at Buffalo Wild Wings to change to channel to the west coast game

I'd also guess that the pre- and postgame shows get ten times the viewers of anything else on an RSN, except for the games themselves.
   22. The Yankee Clapper Posted: January 25, 2021 at 05:48 PM (#6001698)
I doubt the Orioles paid all 19 of the on air talent $100,000 salaries. Probably many are free-lance or part-timers.
That’s my impression, too. For whatever reasons, the Orioles & MASN preferred an army of part-time color commentators & studio analysts, rather than a set lineup. Looks like they’re letting the most recognizable names go, which presumably saves some money. Until the post-Machado Orioles enjoy some success, the potential audience for the pre & post-game shows, as well as the games themselves, is probably fairly small.
   23. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: January 25, 2021 at 06:55 PM (#6001712)
I'm sure the pre- and post-game shows have higher ratings than the 7 year-old strongman competition that would otherwise air. I've had pre and post game shows on in the past few years. They're good background when you are making dinner or something.

   24. Jay Seaver Posted: January 25, 2021 at 07:24 PM (#6001716)
Do people actually literally watch an 30-60 minute pregame, a 3-4 hour game, and a 30-60 minute postgame 162 times per season? How many people actually do that?


Not 162 times a year, but by the time I get home/out of the home office, there's almost always less than a movie's time before the game starts, and I'll generally keep it on until I'm done with whatever I was doing during the game (and since I'm a Red Sox fan, that's probably got me to 11pm). I'm single and don't have a lot else vying for my attention during that time period, but I don't imagine it's completely uncommon.

But it's not like NESN or any other RSN is expecting that; they're figuring on adding an average of one or two commercial breaks plus more exposure for whoever has the show's naming rights and bottom-line ads to the average viewing. Given that NESN has been running them on the days of national games and expanding the length of these shows for a while - they were 30 minutes not-too-long ago, but now generally run an hour, with the pre-game 90 minutes on Fridays and sometimes Mondays - I'm guessing that their numbers show that enough people show up early and stay late to make it worth it, especially if 90 minutes doesn't cost a whole lot more to produce than 30. I mean, heck, you're probably paying the camera and sound guys for a 4-hour shift regardless.
   25. Andere Richtingen Posted: January 25, 2021 at 08:22 PM (#6001724)
(If memory serves, old school WGN called it "The Leadoff Man" and it was more like 15 minutes -- but memory might not serve. Lou Boudreau I thought hosted it in pre-Harry days.)


That’s right, a lot of that eaten up by commercials. That continued post-Boudreau, with Steve Stone doing the interviews. With most games starting at 1:20 or 2:20, they had twenty minutes to show highlights of the previous game, do a quick interview, and talk about the day’s lineup and a LOT of commercials.
   26. Rob_Wood Posted: January 25, 2021 at 08:36 PM (#6001727)
Hamms beer and Household Finance
   27. Howie Menckel Posted: January 25, 2021 at 11:07 PM (#6001739)
I get the "they'll get 10 viewers rather than 5 for the 7-year-old rerun" angle for regional TV networks airing ad nauseum post-game shows (and kudos to Post 21 for the BWW line).

but on big-market sports talk radio? I'm much more likely to listen to Doris in Rego Park or Jerome in Manhattan asking inane questions than I am to relive the 3 runs scored in the 5th inning of a 9-7 game in excruciating detail. the radio channel doesn't have the universal competition that TV does (well, I used to subscribe to Sirius, but that ended with my last new car purchase and I Siriusly don't miss it or paying for it. if the post-game extends for hours, I'll flip on a news channel or just turn off the radio. and I can't be the only one).
   28. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: January 25, 2021 at 11:14 PM (#6001742)
When I watch a game on tv, I don’t watch the post-game, but when I attend a game at the stadium, I like listening to the post-game on the radio during my drive home.
   29. The Yankee Clapper Posted: January 25, 2021 at 11:32 PM (#6001750)
The Nationals are also impacted by the MASN cutbacks, and they’re not happy about it:
“MASN has notified us that they are parting ways with Dan Kolko, Bo Porter and Alex Chappell,” the team wrote. “In addition, MASN has cut Nats Xtra to just 15 minutes pre- and post-game. To say that we are incredibly disappointed and upset by MASN’s decisions would be a gross understatement. To be clear — these decisions were made by MASN and against our wishes.”
It appears that MASN - more accurately, the Orioles - is unwillingly to pay fair market value for the Nationals TV rights, or spend beyond the bare minimum, if that, for pre & post-game production. Seems only fair that the Nationals let MASN out what they must regard as a bad deal.

The timing makes it unlikely that any of those displaced will find full-time work in baseball this season, and few of those affected are at the end of their careers after decades of big media salaries.
   30. DFA Posted: January 25, 2021 at 11:56 PM (#6001757)
I wonder if the purpose of the pre and post game shows from the club perspectives is to sell ads (I mean, I'm sure it is). So perhaps advertisers indicated they were unwilling to pay x price for ads during the pre and post game shows, thus making this an easy decision for MASN?

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