NBC Returns to Baseball as MLB Sunday Leadoff Streaming Package Debuts on Peacock
This weekend marks the first of 18 Sunday games to be produced by NBC Sports this season
It has been more than two decades since NBC Sports produced a Major League Baseball game. It was Game 6 of the American League Championship Series in October 2000. Bob Costas and the late Joe Morgan were on the call as the New York Yankees finished off the Seattle Mariners at Yankee Stadium to secure a ticket in the Subway Series.
That 7,873-day drought will end Sunday when the newest package of MLB games, MLB Sunday Leadoff, debuts on NBC and streams on Peacock with the Chicago White Sox vs. the Boston Red Sox at 11:30 a.m. ET.
It’s the first of 18 consecutive Sundays when NBC will exclusively live-stream a Major League Baseball game on Peacock. It’s also the latest in a series of streaming-exclusive games, alongside Friday Night Baseball on Apple TV+, the YouTube Game of the Week, and a package of New York Yankees games on Amazon Prime.
“We’re going to have a lot of fun with it,” Sam Flood, executive producer/president, production, NBC Sports, said on a media call on Wednesday. “Most importantly, we’re going to honor and celebrate the game of baseball, a game that means an awful lot to NBC Sports and the group of people here that are charged with telling the story of the game each week.”
The MLB Sunday Leadoff package brings live baseball to a much earlier window in the day than is traditional: start time for the first six Sunday games is 11:30 a.m. ET; the remaining 12 games begin at noon. The package also guarantees that, on each Sunday, no other MLB game will begin prior to 1:30 p.m. ET. On each of Peacock’s 18 Sundays, the streaming service will be the exclusive home of live MLB action until 1:30 p.m., when the remainder of the day’s schedule begins.
“We had seen success with Premier League in the late-morning time window,” said Rick Cordella, EVP/chief commercial officer, Peacock. “We asked, knowing that baseball had played morning games — [for example,] on Patriots’ Day in Boston — and, to baseball’s credit, they were open to it. We had been talking to baseball for a long time before we came to an agreement. We were looking for something that was unique, not just another game. Again, I credit baseball: we came with this sort of crazy idea, and they said yes. But it was always a big part of what we were trying to do.”
These will be fully onsite productions with a truck, full production/operations crews, and talent at the ballpark each week. MLB Sunday Leadoff games will be produced in the truck by Matt Borzello and feature longtime baseball director John Moore in the director’s chair at the start. The plan is to have Moore, who has directed baseball games since 1980 and for major entities like MLB International and the YES Network, direct the first three or four games to get the package rolling. Then, a yet-to-be-named NBC Sports staff director will take over.
An NBC Sports representative estimates that each game will feature a minimum of eight hard cameras at traditional broadcast positions and two super-slow-mos. It was also confirmed that NBC will deploy its own version of an on-field mirrorless camera on a stabilized gimbal shooting with a shallow–depth-of-field effect.
“We have a great team of engineer and operations folks,” said Flood. “Give the team a challenge, and they will exceed expectations and always enhance the viewing experience.”
In terms of on-screen look, the Peacock games will feature a hybrid of the new graphics package and scorebug rolled out at the start of this season by the NBC Sports Regional Networks, with bits of new elements to incorporate big NBC and Peacock branding. Flood also noted that the broadcaster will look to pay tribute to the history of Major League Baseball on NBC with throwbacks to previously used graphic elements and even music.
“It’s going to be a hyper-local telecast with a national flair,” he said. “We certainly are going to tip our cap to the rich history of baseball on NBC between some music elements and some graphic elements. We’re also going to move forward with some new techniques and new elements that we’re going to try along the way. We’re going to tip our cap to the Little League and youth baseball, some of the players in the game, and connect the stars of today to their early days on the diamond before they became stars.”