Peacock Ready for Second Swing at ‘MLB Sunday Leadoff’ Package (Q&A)

Yankees player Aaron Judge
Exclusivity will let Peacock feature players like Aaron Judge of the Yankees to home fans during its Sunday-morning telecasts. (Image credit: Aaron Kee/ESPN Images)

Peacock will step to the plate April 23 for the second season of its MLB Sunday Leadoff baseball package in hopes of continuing to build on the streaming service’s appeal to sports fans. 

The NBCUniversal-owned streamer will air 19 Sunday-morning games beginning April 23, taking full advantage of its exclusive TV window for MLB telecasts through 1:30 p.m. Last year’s games highlighted Peacock’s growing lineup of live sports content, which includes English Premier League soccer games, rugby and WWE programming, along with simulcasts of NBC’s NFL Sunday Night Football, NBC Sports and Peacok Sports president, programming Rick Cordella said.

Rick Cordella of NBC Sports

Rick Cordella (Image credit: NBC Sports)

Cordella outlined Peacock’s Sunday baseball strategy in an interview with Multichannel News. A lightly edited transcript appears below.

MCN: What benefits did last season’s Sunday baseball game package bring to Peacock’s overall strategy to reach sports fans? 

Rick Cordella: Certainly, baseball has an appeal to sports fans and it did drive new subscribers. When you have the [New York] Yankees’ Aaron Judge exclusively on your platform, there are people that don’t want to miss any of the at-bats. It’s a pretty good volume of folks that have come through on Sunday mornings to watch the games, but the key for us is not for them to be transactional and come for just one game. We want them to come in to watch the Yankees, [Boston] Red Sox or any team and then stay for the other sports content we have, or stay for the other entertainment content. Hopefully, those viewers will be exposed to the great offerings we have in movies from Universal and series like Yellowstone and The Office. We’re hoping that baseball is a catalyst for us in that regard. 

MCN: With one year under your belt, what are your expectations for Peacock’s upcoming season of Sunday baseball games?

RC: We went into last year hoping that the earlier window and the exclusivity of that window up until 1:30 [ET], would drive fans to it. We saw in the data that we have a national audience for baseball on Peacock that came and watched each and every week. It’s good to be in business with baseball — it’s the sport of the summer, and having live sports each and every weekend is something that’s important to Peacock and our overall media mix, and it fits in a great place on our schedule overall. We were really happy with how the season went last year and we’re looking forward to this season. 

MCN: Is Peacock looking to make any major changes or tweaks to its offering this year? 

RC: The only tweak we made was to not be so pigeonholed in the 11:30 am or 12 pm start time for our games. You’ll see on the schedule that we’ve gone a little later to grab a Cubs game at Wrigley Field, which wouldn’t be possible at those earlier times. Besides that, it’s sort of the same formula.

B+C: Baseball has made several rules changes to the game this season. What is your opinion of those changes, and do you think it will help drive greater viewership appeal for the sport? 

RC: I think baseball is being progressive, and that’s what you want from our partners. They are asking the right questions as to what the fans want and what’s going to appeal to the fans overall. I’m not sure there will be a discrete correlation to the game-to-game audience, but you have to give Commissioner [Rob] Manfred and the entire baseball brass a lot of credit for making these pretty drastic changes to the sport. ▪️

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2023 MLB Sunday Leadoff Schedule on Peacock
April 23Colorado Rockies at Philadelphia Phillies12:05 p.m. (ET)
April 30Chicago Cubs at Miami Marlins12:05 p.m.
May 7Baltimore Orioles at Atlanta Braves11:35 a.m.
May 14Los Angeles Angels at Cleveland Guardians11:35 a.m.
May 21New York Yankees at Cincinnati Reds11:35 a.m.
May 28 Los Angeles Dodgers at Tampa Bay Rays 11:35 a.m.
June 4 St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates11:35 a.m.
June 11Arizona Diamondbacks at Detroit Tigers11:35 a.m.
June 18Baltimore Orioles at Chicago Cubs1:05 p.m.
July 2Minnesota Twins at Baltimore Orioles12:05 p.m.
July 9 Texas Rangers at Washington Nationals1:05 p.m.
July 16 San Francisco Giants at Pittsburgh Pirates12:05 p.m.
July 23San Diego Padres at Detroit Tigers12:05 p.m.
July 30 Los Angeles Angels at Toronto Blue Jays 12:05 p.m.
August 6Chicago White Sox at Cleveland Guardians12:05 p.m.
August 13Detroit Tigers at Boston Red Sox12:05 p.m.
August 20Seattle Mariners at Houston Astros1:05 p.m.
August 27Los Angeles Angels at New York Mets12:05 p.m.
September 3 Philadelphia Phillies at Milwaukee Brewers12:05 p.m.
R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.