MLB Network, swinging for attention from younger fans, is producing a baseball-news vignette just for them.
Each morning, MLB Network producers will unveil a short video segment filled with emojis, virtual filters and bright graphics, that will recap the best moments from the league over the past 24 hours. “Top of The Order” will be distributed across MLB’s digital platforms and also shown on MLB Network’s “Quick Pitch,” which delivers updates on what happened in the sport the night before.
Many top sports outlets are trying to find new ways to appeal to kids and young viewers, who have come up in an era when the traditional formats of broadcast and cable TV are being usurped by expectations fomented by digital media. Modern viewers often expect to see multiple “screens” of action, or a steady stream of commentary or statistics. Paramount Global has for the past two years aired an NFL Wild Card telecast on its kids-focused outlet Nickelodeon, complete with cartoon graphics and funny overlays. Walt Disney’s ESPN has experimented with a Little League World Series broadcast with kids offering reporting and analysis as well as an NBA game telecast that has been turned into a contest with Marvel characters.
This isn’t MLB Network’s first effort to appeal to a rising generation of fans. Since 2016, the cable network has produced “Play Ball,” which airs every Saturday during the regular season at 10:00 a.m. The series starts with Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies from the World Series champion Atlanta Braves, and others will appear on the program in weeks to come. A.J. Andrews, a standout collegiate softball player, is the new host of the program.
MLB Network has added two new daily shows to its lineup. “Off Base,” which launches Monday, April 11, is hosted by Lauren Gardner with panelists Hannah Keyser and Xavier Scruggs, and aims to provide “outside the box thinking” and passionate takes that appeal to a younger crowd. “Pregame Spread,” which also debuts Monday, is hosted by Matt Vasgersian, and provides , betting insights and interviews with outspoken personalities from the past.