Rise Of The Alt Broadcasts: ESPN2’s KayRod Cast Draws A Big Rating

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Is it time to say “See ya!” to traditional sports broadcasts?

ESPN2’s ‘KayRod Cast’ had its baseball regular season premiere this past weekend and it was an absolute hit.

Of the 1.311 million viewers that tuned in to see the Texas Rangers defeat the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1, 15% decided to do so via ESPN2’s alternate broadcast.

The ‘KayRod Cast’ features Yankees television play-by-play broadcaster and ESPN New York radio host Michael Kay, along with Alex Rodriguez. It was ESPN’s baseball-version of their successful “ManningCast” featuring Peyton and Eli Manning.

And after averaging 11% of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball total audience last season, there’s no doubt that the KayRod Cast is heading in the right direction.

Alex Rodriguez is seeing success as part of the KayRod Cast. (Photo by Quinn Harris/MLB Photos via Getty Images)


The world of broadcasting is an interesting thing.

Fans – especially baseball fans – want to feel a certain level of comfort when watching their team play, that includes with the broadcasters.

Because Sunday Night Baseball is nationally televised on ESPN, I’d argue there is already a difference with fans having to listen to Karl Ravech, David Cone, Eduardo Perez and Buster Olney calling the game. (Yankees fans get the best of both worlds on Sundays having Kay still involved if the Yanks play). It’s not that Ravech and company are bad – it’s just that they are the national broadcast team. There is a difference.

So if you’re not going to get your regular broadcasters, why not switch to the alt cast for at least some, if not all of the game instead?

The alt cast allows “dudes to just be dudes,” and “sports fans to just be sports fans.” Crack a beer, kick back, it’s like you’re on the couch with the Manning brothers or with Kay and A-Rod. It’s a refreshing take rather than the suit and tie stiffness of regular sports broadcasts that fans have the other six days of the week.

The addition of random guests gives an extra incentive too.

Whether it’s Derek Jeter doing his first interview with A-Rod in nine years, to Pat McAfee being well, Pat McAfee, to Billy Crystal telling Mantle and Maris stories, or even Marshawn Lynch pulling up on the Mannings absolutely blazed out of his mind… the alt cast makes things… wait for it… actually ENJOYABLE.


The one issue you just know is going to pop up is that network executives, always feening over “what’s hot now,” are going to overdo the alternate broadcasts.

Soon, we are going to have one for any and every single thing. Just like the rise of every human on the planet apparently having a podcast, the alt casts are going to soon become oversaturated.

Some free advice for the execs out there: Just stop now.

The ManningCast works because Peyton and Eli are hysterical, goofy and likable people.

The KayRod Cast works because it’s the perfect mix of a seasoned, professional broadcaster like Kay – a baseball purist – and a notable recent, yet controversial, player – ARod.

But, unless you’re Pat McAfee, Charles Barkley – or as I’ve advocated for: Travis and Jason Kelce, there are few personalities that can make the alt cast work.

For sports fans, if the alt broadcast isn’t your thing, that’s fine, no one’s forcing you to watch it. And if you’re tired of the regular broadcast, come on over to the looser, more laid back world of the alt broadcast.

Written by Mike Gunzelman

Mike “Gunz” Gunzelman has been involved in the sports and media industry for over a decade. He’s also a risk taker - the first time he ever had sushi was from a Duane Reade in Penn Station in NYC.


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