As Major League Baseball nears its new expanded playoff format, ESPN, who is airing seven of the eight initial playoff rounds is rolling out a new ad campaign called “Fall Frenzy” to support it.
Congratulations, MLB and its players. Barring some unforeseen outbreak, the league will be able to say that they got through a pandemic-shortened 60 game regular season schedule when it ends on Sunday. Beginning on Tuesday with the AL Wild Card Series play followed by the NL Wild Card Series play on Wednesday, the march toward the Fall Classic will begin. As part of an agreement between the league and the players, this year will mark the first time that 16 teams will play in the postseason, all engaging in 3-game series before moving into Division Series play.
With a lack of fans attending games, the league and players, who will, for the first time get a percentage of the pot, saw the value in adding new games to seek as much TV revenue as possible.
In stepped ESPN, who will get all but one of the eight first-round series. At the minimum, it means the Worldwide Leader will air 14-21 games in the best-of-3 format – a staggering bounty of playoff content over four days.
To prime the pump, the network is rolling out the new ad campaigned called “Fall Frenzy” designed to add awareness to the first-of-its-kind series play for Major League Baseball. The spot air through October 2 when the Wild Card Series play is set to end and run across multiple ESPN platforms including television, digital and social media. Placement will include high profile events like NFL Monday Night Football, the NBA Conference Finals, and marquee College Football events the network is scheduled to broadcast.
To show how invested ESPN is in the games, they plan additional placements through ESPN affiliates, emails as well as in-app alerts through the ESPN app and ESPN+. There will also be “tune-in” drop-ins across ESPN and Disney’s
The ad features many of the stars of the league including Clayton Kershaw, Nelson Cruz, and Bryce Harper, and most importantly, many of the teams that haven’t seen playoff daylight in some time such as the White Sox. All of it is set against The Raconteurs track “Bored and Razed” that features Jack White.
Video courtesy ESPN
“We’re proud to share ‘Fall Frenzy,’ the final chapter of our season-long ‘Give Us Baseball’ campaign, aimed at building awareness and anticipation for this one-of-a-kind event”, said Michelle Bella, ESPN’s VP of sports marketing. “The campaign aims to bring into focus all the elements that make up the “Fall Frenzy” of the 2020 Postseason: more teams, more players, more excitement, and more of the unexpected!”
ESPN will also have the exclusive rights to 2020 first round MLB games on national radio and Spanish-language domestic television as well as rights on International television.
While FOX and TBS have reached media rights extensions to air games nationally ahead of the expiration of their current deals in 2021, ESPN has not yet done so. The Worldwide Leader In Sports currently pays $700 million annually for the rights to air Major League Baseball nationally as part of a whopping eight-year, $5.6 billion rights deal. The expanded Wild Card Series games were part of a separate media rights agreement. Broadcast industry insiders that spoke on background due to the ongoing negotiations said ESPN will be renewing their current regular season broadcast deal. With the network picking up the new Wild Card Series games, they could be a key player in whether the league and players agree to the expanded 16 team postseason play when they bargain for a new collective bargaining agreement next year. The current labor deal expires in December 2021.