As with their boxing and MMA product launches, DAZN made a big splash for its new baseball coverage this week. At Foley’s, New York City’s museum/baseball bar, DAZN unleashed its lineup for its nightly baseball show ChangeUp, which will air live look-ins and whiparound coverage as part of its three-year digital rights agreement.
Adnan Virk will anchor its early night game coverage during the week alongside HQ Trivia host Scott Rogowsky, and Lauren Gardner and Tony Luftman will anchor late nights from MLB Network’s studios in Secaucus, N.J. Former ESPN analyst Alfredo Lomeli will also be part of the ChangeUp team along with Cespedes Family BBQ personalities Jake Mintz and Jordan Shusterman, who will work weekends.
Following an appearance by Roger Clemens for some reason, even though he won’t be part of DAZN’s coverage, Awful Announcing had the chance to chat with Logan Swaim, ChangeUp’s executive producer and showrunner. You may not know Swaim’s name, but he had an extremely successful tenure as the showrunner for NFL Network’s popular weekday show Good Morning Football. Swaim’s goal is to bring that celebration of the game you see on GMFB to DAZN’s baseball coverage as it looks to reach a younger audience.
“What we’re going to really try to do is showcase younger personalities and fresh perspectives on baseball, which it needs,” Swaim told Awful Announcing. “Baseball doesn’t need to change the game. Baseball begs to differ, but I think we need to change how baseball is talked about. Change how baseball is celebrated. Change how baseball is communicated and showcased.”
The younger personalities like Rogowski and Cespedes Family BBQ is what Swaim said will set ChangeUp apart from MLB Network’s award-winning MLB Tonight, which will interestingly compete for viewers from the same building.
“A show about baseball? That needs to get better and try to skew younger,” Swaim said.
A show with younger hosts celebrating the sport they know and love is part of what distinguished Good Morning Football under Swaim’s watch. First and foremost, the four hosts of Good Morning Football are fans of football.
“They celebrate the game with a very positive show. It’s not all Anthem stuff,” Swaim said. “And when you have that sort of celebratory, passionate camaraderie, it shows. Those aren’t people with agendas. They’re not there to talk down to people. They’re there to celebrate the game and come together every day to talk about something that they love. That’s what we want to do here.”
Creatively, Swaim described Good Morning Football as cerebral, trying to take segments that other morning shows wouldn’t do and take those to the next level. That’s what he wants to do at DAZN, to be original and take elements of pop culture, things going on in the dugouts and clubhouses “and make it a touchstone of all things.”
“We want to communicate baseball besides just analyzing Trout’s sabermetrics,” Swaim said. “There’s got to be other ways to talk about baseball.”
One major aspect of ChangeUp that will serve both as an advantage and a challenge is that there won’t be any commercial breaks. Good Morning Football had highlights and breaking news “but we didn’t have actual football at that time,” Swaim said. He’s excited for ChangeUp to analyze games, conduct segments and weave in pop culture while the night’s highlights and talking points are unfolding.
“At any moment we have this secret weapon, which is live baseball,” Swaim said.
Besides for the anatomical challenge hosts will encounter without live breaks, it also forces Swaim to find ads for the show without the aid of traditional commercials.
“Our sales team is doing a great job with both reaching out and developing those sponsors,” he said. “And there’s a lot of types of segments that lend themselves to brands as they would with any baseball show or any show. And once they see our hosts too, it’s a no-brainer.”
Operating out of the MLB Network studios also enabled Swaim to put this show together a lot faster than if he had to build the entire operation from scratch, with resources like researchers, producers, facilities, edit suites, control rooms already in place.
As expected, Swaim declined to list DAZN’s target of viewers or added subscribers the company is looking for from ChangeUp, only saying that they do have an internal number.
“We’re trying to familiarize people with this new name, this new platform which is in itself an uphill climb,” Swaim said, “but we think the show is gonna hold itself up and attract new people to the platform.”
Like his old show Good Morning Football, Swaim said ChangeUp is going to be for hardcore fans at the end of the day.
“Obviously you want to break through with any show and attract non-baseball fans.,” Swaim said. “Good Morning Football was a show for football fans, and I think it lends itself to non-football fans too. We want to give something to the hardcore baseball fan that they’ve never heard, and give something to the non-baseball fan that they could understand.”
With DAZN now deeply entrenched in the world of boxing, we’ll see how it does with baseball, another American sport that could use an injection of life and vitality as it celebrates its 150th season with opening day.