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Marlins, Bally Sports Florida finally tie the knot on new TV deal

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As if there was any doubt, you’ll be able to watch the Miami Marlins locally throughout the 2021 season.

“Close call” would be an understatement. With only eight days until the opening of the new Marlins regular season, the franchise’s longtime television partner put out the following press release:

MIAMI – Bally Sports Florida (rebranding from FOX Sports Florida) announced today the network will produce and televise all 162 regular season Miami Marlins games as part of the 2021 Major League Baseball season. The new season on Bally Sports Florida also marks the beginning of a new multi-year media rights agreement for the network to continue as the home of the Marlins, extending their existing 20-year relationship.

Paul Severino returns for his fourth season as play-by-play announcer, while former Marlins player Todd Hollandsworth is back for his fifth year in the broadcast booth as color analyst. Four-time World Series Champion Jeff Nelson, former Marlins player Gaby Sanchez, longtime Marlins announcer Tommy Hutton and former MLB catcher J.P. Arencibia will all play roles as analysts in the network’s pregame and postgame coverage this season. Former Marlins player Cliff Floyd will make his Bally Sports Florida debut, rejoining the broadcast team for his first season since 2013, as a pre- and post-game analyst. Craig Minervini will begin his 20th season as host and in-game reporter, in addition to Jessica Blaylock, who enters her seventh season as in-game reporter and host. Kelly Saco rounds out the broadcast team in her fourth season as contributing host and in game reporter, while South Florida digital host and reporter Jeremy Taché will cover all things social in his first season with the network.

All broadcasts throughout the season will feature half-hour “Marlins Live” pregame shows along with extended postgame coverage. “Marlins Live” will originate from Marlins Park for home games, while away games will be anchored between Marlins Park and the new Bally Sports studio.

Bally Sports Florida’s “Marlins Live” coverage on Opening Day will start at 3 p.m. from Marlins Park. Complementing Opening Day coverage on April 1 – and marking a new era of regional sports – “Bally Sports Big Opening Day” will leverage the Bally Sports regional networks to offer fans across the country for the first-time ever a live, whip-around style MLB Opening Day broadcast complete with expert analysis, interviews and more. In coordination with Sinclair-owned sister sports platforms, including Tennis Channel and Stadium, the 4.5-hour special will also feature NHL, NBA, and pro-tennis updates and highlights. Leading off at 11AM ET, “Bally Sports Big Opening Day” will originate from Stadium’s studio in Chicago and air across all 19 Bally Sports regional networks.

Marlins programming will air on Bally Sports Florida and stream live on the upcoming all-new Bally Sports app, and on ballysports.com, when a consumer authenticates through their pay-TV service. The Bally Sports app will be available on mobile and tablet devices, including iOS and Android, as well as connected devices including, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, PlayStation, Roku Players and Roku TV, Samsung and LG platforms and Xbox One. The FOX Sports GO app will update to the all-new Bally Sports app upon the release of the new app. Fans can also download the app for free from the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Amazon App Store, Roku App Store, XBOX One App Store and Windows App Store.

Going beyond the games, Bally Sports Florida’s partnership with the Marlins provides fans with opportunities to get to know the team and its players. “Marlins All-Access” and “Marlins Clubhouse” both return to provide fans with unique perspectives and captivating insights on the team, players, coaches, organization and more.

Lastly, this season’s broadcast schedule will be subject to change in anticipation of MLB, team, network and provider updates and clarifications. Any changes will be communicated to media and fans ahead of each series in accordance with the Marlins and MLB.

I’m being overly dramatic: this has been a long time coming. One month ago, Bally Sports parent company Sinclair Broadcasting disclosed on its quarterly earnings report that there was already a binding term sheet on a new deal. The Marlins didn’t have a viable alternative, anyway.

What specifically are those terms? The wait continues, but Craig Mish of the Miami Herald has some key details:

Over the last 15 years, FOX Sports Florida (the network’s previous name) paid $270M for the rights to air Marlins games. That’s an $18M average annual value, including $20M last season. Mish’s choice of words indicates that their TV revenue will soar to somewhere north of $40M annually moving forward. Man On Second Baseball’s Joe Frisaro adds that Bally Sports Florida is planning expanded spring training coverage in future years.

The Marlins are closing the gap with other MLB teams. It’s a celebratory occasion for fans anxious to see ownership invest more heavily in the major league product. That being said, based on earlier reporting from the Herald, it seems Bruce Sherman, Derek Jeter and company have come up short of their own original projections.

Barring last-minute transactions, Miami’s 2021 Opening Day payroll is going to be approximately $59.2M, their lowest total since 2014—that team was coming off an 100-loss campaign whereas this one just earned a postseason berth.

Now that he’s officially entering year four in the Marlins broadcast booth, Paul Severino will join us on Thursday’s Fish Stripes podcast episode (“Marlins Barbecue”).