MLB 2019 Preview: DAZN ChangeUp Looks to Deliver for MLB Fans Longing for Equivalent of NFL Redzone
Whiparound-style show to be co-produced by MLB Network and DAZN
The 2019 MLB season begins a new era for the league, the MLB Network, and the OTT service DAZN as the latter will air ChangeUp, a daily MLB show at 7 p.m. (and on weekends at 10 p.m.) that will originate from MLB Network in Secaucus, NJ. Co-produced by MLB Network and DAZN, the show will feature whip-around coverage of live MLB games similar to NFL’s RedZone but with a difference: co-hosts will call the action with a focus on lively commentary from talent, game recaps, and highlights.
Adnan Virk, one of the hosts from 7-10:30 p.m. on weekdays (alongside Scott Rogowsky), says that he sees an incredible opportunity for all involved, especially as they are all in on the ground floor.
“I think ChangeUp is going to change people’s minds when it comes to great sports television and if you’re a baseball fan it will be a must have,” he says. “And as a life-long baseball fan I dreamed of one day being part of the league and working for it and that is why I am so indebted to them.”
With seamless whip arounds to the hottest plays and action going on Virk and the rest of the talent team will have plenty of topics and action to zero in on. When Virk and Rogowsky sign off at 10:30 p.m. reporter Lauren Gardner and NHL Network host Tony Luftman will take over from 10:30 p.m.-1 a.m. The weekend show will be hosted by Jake Mintz and Jordan Shusterman who cut their teeth on “Cespedes Family BBQ” which originally was on Twitter (they also provide content for MLB’s Cut4) and ESPN International broadcaster Alfredo “Freddy” Lomeli will also play a role in the program. “ChangeUp” will also feature appearances from MLB Network analysts, including Eric Byrnes, Cliff Floyd, Carlos Pena, Harold Reynolds and Hall of Famer John Smoltz.
Overseeing those efforts is ChangeUp Executive Producer Logan Swaim who previously was show runner for Good Morning Football on the NFL Network. He will oversee a team of about 20 for each show, including six editors who will churn out recap highlights.
“The live game-to-game traffic and analysis is all happening on the fly via the coordinating producer, line producers, and talent,” he says.
Swaim says his production philosophy is simple: check your ego and title at the door.
“Every single fact of a production is imperative to that production, from a research packet to the casting of talent to the studio lighting and beyond,” he says. “It’s essential to recognize the importance of everyone’s role and treat people as equals.”
That, he says, empowers everyone and will be reflected in the quality of the product.
“When people are empowered, they’re excited to come to work, and working in a positive environment is key to a show’s success,” he says.
Swaim also credits the team at MLB Network with getting ChangeUp to this point.
“It’s been amazing [working with them] and I cannot stress this enough: ChangeUp could not have happened without MLB Network,” he says. “They’ve let us into their house, and backyard, and garage, and given us the keys to some of their coolest cars. Most importantly, they’ve given us an excellent production team who are as creative and well-versed as it gets for a show of this magnitude. It’s been a seamless collaboration, and it’s a testament to Rob McGlarry, MLB Network, president, and the culture he’s fostered.”
To date DAZN in the U.S. has been known for its boxing and MMA properties and Joe Markowski, DAZN North America, EVP, says that the partnership with MLB taps into a multicultural appeal, especially for U.S. Hispanics, that is similar to boxing ad MMA.
“Additionally, it’s no secret that you can build a business on domestic rights,” he adds. “Securing the ability to provide live look-ins to games of America’s Pastime is a coup for us.”
Markowski adds that the partnership is a first-of-its-kind way for younger, on-the-go fans to watch baseball.
“Since DAZN is available anywhere, at home or on handheld devices, fans have more flexibility to watch baseball at their convenience,” he says. “We will continue to pursue other creative ways to elevate the DAZN value proposition and bring more sports directly to fans.”
DAZN launched last July with pricing at $9.99 a month but the OTT provider just raised the monthly price to $19.99 while introducing a $99.99 yearly subscription.
“We have noticed there are two distinct groups of sports fans, those who prioritize value and those who prioritize flexibility,” he says. “With more people falling into the first category, we created an annual pass for $99.99 which lowers the average monthly cost to just over eight dollars a month. But knowing that some still prefer flexibility, we’ve maintained a monthly option as well.”
Late last year, when the program was announced, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said DAZN’s multisport streaming platform provides Major League Baseball and our Clubs an important opportunity to extend the game’s digital reach.
“Our collaborative production will benefit DAZN’s subscribers with new ways to follow the captivating storylines, talented young stars and impactful plays happening around the game every day,” he said.
DAZN burst onto the scene in 2016, debuting in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Japan. Its early success across Europe and Asia spawned launches in Canada (2017), Italy and the U.S. (2018). Just this week, DAZN announced it would expand to Spain in 2019.