Earlier this month, Apple agreed to pay MLB $85 million annually over the next seven years in exchange for a Friday night doubleheader that airs exclusively on the tech giant’s streaming service. After learning Max Scherzer’s first start with the New York Mets on April 8 will be carried by Apple TV and only Apple TV, Russo lost it.
“I guarantee you right now, if you put on local radio station WFAN that’s their whole show,” Russo ranted on his SiriusXM show. “Their whole show today is listening to the angry old man call up the radio station ‘get off my lawn’ all ticked off that he can’t see Scherzer’s first start because god help him, he doesn’t know how to figure out Apple TV. And he isn’t the only one.”
— Jimmy Traina (@JimmyTraina) March 29, 2022
Russo wasn’t wrong, the Apple TV deal was a topic on WFAN, although it didn’t quite dominate the airwaves for 24 hours. He also isn’t wrong that the Apple TV deal will tick off the sport’s older audience. But baseball has a desperate need to reach a younger audience and while those fans will have no issue accessing Apple TV, convincing them to sit and watch a three hour baseball game is the real challenge.
“That’s baseball fooling around. That’s dangerous. We’re gonna work our rear ends off to find the football games on Thursday night,” Russo continued. “It’s NFL football, we bet them…the old time Met fan living out in Plainview, he’s gonna be raising hell on Friday. And then baseball wonders why everyone’s so upset.”
In addition to Scherzer’s first start, Russo also went off after learning Apple TV has the Los Angeles Dodgers on Jackie Robinson Day the following week. “Think if Larry King was still with us, you think Larry King has Apple TV? And he was at JACKIE’S FIRST GAME FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!”
I actually think the late Larry King probably did have access to Apple TV. But Major League Baseball isn’t going to focus on the 87-year-old fan and King would have been at Chavez Ravine for Jackie Robinson Day anyway.
As a Mets fan, I’ll be locked in to Scherzer’s first start on Apple TV, but more than being annoyed because I have to watch on a streaming service, I’m bothered that it’s game two of the season and I’m already forced to watch without Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling.
Thanks to the lengthy nature of baseball’s regular season, fans connect with their local broadcasters more than any other sport. More deals with ESPN, Fox, Turner and Apple means fewer opportunities to watch games with the announcers who follow the teams closely on a daily basis.