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All Rise: ESPN Plots ‘Look-In’ Strategy for Aaron Judge

  • ESPN will cut in to Judge’s at-bats Wednesday and Saturday.
  • ESPN hopes he’ll break the AL home run record on ‘Sunday Night Baseball.’
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ESPN will offer live “Look-In’s” to TV viewers during Aaron Judge’s at-bats this week as he seeks the American League home run record.

With the New York Yankees slugger sitting at 60 home runs, the Yankees’ own YES Network will televise the Bronx Bombers game against the Pittsburgh Pirates Wednesday night (7 p.m. ET). 

But starting tonight, ESPN will have cut-in rights to two of the Yankees’ next five games. 

On Wednesday, for example, ESPN will cut in from live soccer coverage when No. 99 comes to bat with the chance of tying, or beating, Roger Maris’ record. Viewers will see a double-box with soccer on one side and Judge on the other. The sports giant’s ESPN+ will also stream the game nationally outside of YES’ footprint in the New York area. 

If circumstances line up, ESPN plans to cut into its college football coverage with a dual box this Saturday during YES’ telecast of the daytime tilt against the Boston Red Sox (1:05 p.m. ET).

Of course, the Worldwide Leader in Sports is hoping and praying the Judge drama will last until Sunday during ESPN’s exclusive telecast of “Sunday Night Baseball.”

Karl Ravech, ex-Yankees pitcher David Cone, and Eduardo Perez will have the main game call on the flagship ESPN channel.

YES Network announcer Michael Kay and former Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez will offer TV viewers another option via their “KayRod” alternate telecast on ESPN2. Look for a guest-starring appearance by ex-Yankees ace Roger Clemens.

“Fans look to ESPN to document the biggest moments in sports and we’re looking forward to capturing more history on our air,” said Burke Magnus, president of programming and original content. “We will continue to cover this record-setting home run chase with the depth and breadth that only we can offer.”

As one of MLB’s national TV partners, ESPN pays the league $550 million for the rights to Opening Night, 25 “Sunday Night Baseball” games, the Home Run Derby, and the Little League Classic. 

But ESPN can’t just cut into Yankees games whenever it wants. The network’s look-in rights depend on who’s showing the game.

ESPN, for instance, is not allowed to offer viewers live look-ins during games shown by other national TV partners such as Fox Sports, TBS, Apple, or Peacock. 

Fox will show the first of the Yankees’ four-game set with the Red Sox on Thursday night while Apple gets Friday night. TBS will get its turn at-bat next Tuesday, Sep. 27, televising the Yankees vs. Toronto Blue Jays.

But ESPN can offer live look-ins during Yankees games on YES, the nation’s largest regional sports network. It will be watching closely for more opportunities to cut in as Judge chases Barry Bonds’ single season record of 73 HRs.

On Wednesday night, YES will also be offering a “JomboyCast” on the YES app hosted by Jomboy Media.

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