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MMAJUNKIE.com’s Simon Samano noted ESPN is “increasing the price” of UFC PPVs on ESPN+ by $5, from $69.99 to $74.99. The price hike is “expected to begin” with UFC 270 on Jan. 22. The ESPN+ PPV package -- which includes one PPV event and an annual subscription -- “also is going up” from $89.98 to $99.98. This marks the third time that ESPN “increased prices” as UFC fans have been hit with a "gradually steep hike" since ESPN became the exclusive home of UFC PPV in April ’18. $74.99 is the “highest regular price ever” for UFC PPV (MMAJUNKIE.com, 1/6).

IN THE FACE OF CRITICISM: In St. Louis, Dan Caesar writes MLB Network now has “put itself in the crosshairs of criticism” by not renewing the contract of reporter Ken Rosenthal when it expired last week. Commissioner Rob Manfred and by extension MLB Network “look extremely petty and enormously thin-skinned.” This puts the credibility of all remaining employees “in question” through "no fault of their own" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/7). The BOSTON GLOBE's Dan Shaughnessy: "It goes down as one of the most idiotic management moves in MLB Network history" (1/7).

FINDING A REPLACEMENT: In Miami, Barry Jackson writes Bally Sports Florida is “soon expected” to begin auditions to find a replacement for Marlins TV analyst Todd Hollandsworth, whose contract “was not renewed.” The Marlins would “endorse having a rotation of analysts” -- including Bally studio analysts Gaby Sanchez, J.P. Arencibia and Tommy Hutton. Jackson: “I would be surprised if Bally goes that route because the network once experimented with that approach ... and wasn’t pleased with the results." Jackson writes it takes a "special talent" to have enough "substantive things to say to keep the broadcasts compelling for three to four hours a night, 150 times a year." Hollandsworth "could never pull it off" (MIAMI HERALD, 1/7).

SBJ Morning Buzzcast: July 7, 2022

Talking points from Sun Valley; Pac-12 retains Sports Media Advisors; Oak View Group to sell Top Golf national sponsorships and Rapino remains influential with new deal at Live Nation

SBJ Unpacks: LIV Golf tees off in Portland

Ahead of the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic in Illinois and LIV Golf Invitational Portland, SBJ’s Josh Carpenter, and David Rumsey spoke with Sports Illustrated's Bob Harig and Brendan Porath of The Fried Egg to discuss the current state of golf.

SBJ Spotlight: TikTok’s threat to traditional sports media

While tech companies are consumed with finding ways to compete with TikTok, almost no one in conventional media “spends any time talking about it,” said Recode senior correspondent Peter Kafka in an Spotlight interview with SBJ’s John Ourand. “To me, that’s just an obvious disconnect.” Kafka authored a recent column headlined, “It’s TikTok’s world. Can TV live in it?” He said the main response to TikTok’s growth from traditional media execs has been to “punt and hope it’s someone else’s problem a quarter from now or two years from now.” But Kafka said that ignores the trend of conventional broadcast audiences growing older while a billion younger consumers spend most of their media time watching short video after short video. “If you’re in the business of getting anyone under the age of 30 to look at what you’re putting on a screen, you have to think about the fact that you’re probably asking them to put down TikTok and watch your thing instead,” said Kafka. “That’s a very difficult ask. … [TikTok] is insanely addictive.”

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