Baseball is Here

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    • Fox already has sold 90% of its advertising inventory for MLB games.

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MLB Opening Day has finally arrived and plenty of brands are lining up to take advantage of the attention now being put on baseball. Fox has sold more than 90% of its ad inventory for its MLB games this year, and there’s reportedly a rush to buy space on the regional sports networks that air games.

Among the brands buying air time is Buffalo Wild Wings, who has a 60-second spot that will debut during the Washington Nationals-New York Yankees game on ESPN tonight. Hankook Tire is launching two commercials featuring Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw that will air on ESPN, Fox, and MLB Network.

An estimated $217.7 million in advertising is normally spent across Fox, Fox Sports 1, TBS, MLB Network, and ESPN for the 162-game slate. Advertising revenue in May was down 31%, largely because of the lack of sports on TV.

Along with the commercial breaks, there will be plenty of new ad space on the field and in the stands. Teams are allowed to place ads – real or virtual – on the back of the pitcher’s mound, behind home plate, in foul territory down the first-base line, in the on deck circle, and on tarps in the stands.

Other MLB News: 

— MLB and the MLB Players Association are reportedly reengaged in talks to expand the playoffs to 16 teams. A deal has to be in place before the first pitch tonight, but it could add millions in extra ad revenue to help make up for the fewer games.

— The Toronto Blue Jays are still without a home park after both the Canadian and Pennsylvanian governments denied their requests. Buffalo’s Sahlen Field, the home of the team’s Triple-A affiliate, is reportedly back on table while Baltimore’s Camden Yards could be in the mix as well.

— The Los Angeles Dodgers have signed outfielder Mookie Betts to a 12-year, $365 million extension. It’s the second-largest MLB contract ever, behind the $426.5 million deal Mike Trout signed last spring with the Los Angeles Angels.