Illustration: Axios/Sarah Grillo

With the future of the 2020 baseball season still unknown, ESPN is relying on reruns of classic games, including a May 12 telecast focused on Derek Jeter, executives tell Axios.

Why it matters: ESPN sees value in re-airing classics, especially with mega-stars. Without live sports, it's the closest thing the network can offer to baseball fans, who tend to be older and less likely to tune into alternatives like eSports.

Details: The Jeter game will be subject to a fan vote as part of ESPN’s MLB Encore Tuesdays series.

  • There will be a poll on ESPN.com starting next Monday with a handful of Jeter’s most significant games.
  • The winning game will air at 7 p.m. ET.
  • Jeter, who is headlining the National Baseball Hall of Fame class this year, remains one of the most popular MLB personalities.

The big picture: Specialized programming around stars or historic games allows the network to build new content, like interviews with athletes, or fan engagement polls, which ESPN will be leveraging for its Jeter special.

  • ESPN is airing on Tuesday the 2003 American League Championship Series Game 7 between the Yankees and Red Sox. That game was made famous when Aaron Boone, a former ESPN analyst and current Yankees manager, hit the game-winning home run. 
  • Boone will join ESPN’s digital show “BBTN Live” (Baseball Tonight Live), which leads into the MLB Encore Tuesdays show.  BBTN Live is available on ESPN’s Twitter, YouTube and the ESPN App.

Between the lines: ESPN launched the “BBTN Live” show on digital platforms tied to the MLB Encore Tuesdays to build shoulder programming around the classic game re-airs. Special guests have included Cal Ripken Jr, Alex Rodriguez and Edgar Martinez.

What's next: The network is trying to offer baseball fans alternatives across all of its platforms.

  • ESPN Radio is re-airing classic World Series games from the past decade every Saturday night.
  • It's launched Tim Kurkjian's daily “Baseball Fix,” a video series in which the popular ESPN commentators tells the best story in baseball from that date in history.
  • It's still running "Baseball Tonight," a baseball podcast hosted by Buster Olney.

Our thought bubble: Sports can have a second life if they are made relevant through new commentary, interviews or reflections.

  • ESPN is experiencing that success right now through its classics strategy, but also through some of its documentaries, like The Last Dance.
  • These nostalgia plays can sometimes are more effective engaging fans right now than other forms of content, like HORSE competitions.

Go deeper

Aug 3, 2020 - Sports

13 members of St. Louis Cardinals test positive for coronavirus

Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Seven players and six staff members from the St. Louis Cardinals have tested positive for the coronavirus over the past week, prompting the MLB to postpone the team's upcoming four-game series against the Detroit Tigers.

Why it matters: Seven consecutive Cardinals games have now been canceled after St. Louis became the second team to report a significant coronavirus outbreak, just two weeks into the season.

Trump tightens screws on ByteDance to sell Tiktok

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump added more pressure Friday night on China-based TikTok parent ByteDance to exit the U.S., ordering it to divest all assets related to the U.S. operation of TikTok within 90 days.

Between the lines: The order means ByteDance must be wholly disentangled from TikTok in the U.S. by November. Trump had previously ordered TikTok banned if ByteDance hadn't struck a deal within 45 days. The new order likely means ByteDance has just another 45 days after that to fully close the deal, one White House source told Axios.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 21,056,850 — Total deaths: 762,293— Total recoveries: 13,100,902Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m ET: 5,306,215 — Total deaths: 168,334 — Total recoveries: 1,796,309 — Total tests: 65,676,624Map.
  3. Health: CDC: Survivors of COVID-19 have up to three months of immunity Fauci believes normalcy will return by "the end of 2021" with vaccine — The pandemic's toll on mental health — FDA releases first-ever list of medical supplies in shortage.
  4. States: California passes 600,000 confirmed coronavirus cases.
  5. Cities: Coronavirus pandemic dims NYC's annual 9/11 Tribute in Light.
  6. Business: How small businesses got stiffed — Unemployment starts moving in the right direction.
  7. Politics: Biden signals fall strategy with new ads.