Both Awful Announcing and Andrew Marchand of The New York Post report that ESPN is considering bringing Baseball Tonight back to its daily lineup. The show switched to a Sundays-only schedule after the company went through a massive round of layoffs in 2017. Intentional Talk, which originates from MLB Network, has been airing on ESPN2 to fill the void since that time.
The deal with MLB Network ends in April, and according to Awful Announcing, ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro wants to bring back a daily baseball show. Whether or not that show would be called “Baseball Tonight” and when or where it airs are details that still need to be worked out.
The change in programming philosophy comes as a result of Pitaro wanting to add more play-by-play of the MLB Playoffs to ESPN’s portfolio. Currently the World Wide Leader only has rights to a single Wild Card game. Pitaro has described getting at least one full series as a “top priority” for ESPN.
ESPN already has an impressive staff if they want to revive a daily baseball show. Karl Ravech and Adnan Virk are still under contract. They both served as hosts of the show during the last two seasons. Analysts Mark Texiera, David Ross, and Eduardo Perez are still under contract. The network also has insiders Buster Olney, Pedro Gomez, and Tim Kurkjian still under contract.
Apparently ESPN is not resting its hat on those names alone. Marchand reports that the network isn’t done adding baseball talent to its roster.
ESPN already has had talks to add Ryan Howard, according to sources. The Post previously reported the network has signed Yahoo’s Jeff Passan to be its Adam Schefter of baseball. Passan will begin in January. ESPN may look to acquire another analyst or two.
Whether this show airs on ESPN, ESPN2, or even ESPN+ is still up for discussion. It could even float between networks to accommodate play-by-play schedules. Whatever the case is, it does appear that a daily baseball show is coming back to ESPN and that show will play a key role in the network expanding its involvement in broadcasting MLB Playoff games.