The nationally televised games on the Red Sox 2020 schedule.
NESN has revealed their broadcast schedule for the 2020 Boston Red Sox season. While the vast majority of games will air on the team’s local network, the announcement also reveals which games will be available to a nationwide audience.
55 of the 60 regular season games will be telecast on NESN, beginning with Opening Day when the Red Sox host the Baltimore Orioles on July 24 at 7:30 p.m. All three games in that opening series will be on NESN with the two weekend games shifting to an afternoon start time at 1:30 p.m.
That leaves only five nationally televised games, most of which are scheduled for early in the season. Three of those games will air on FOX while the other two get the spotlight of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.
Thursday, July 30: Red Sox at Mets at 7:07 p.m. on FOX
Saturday, August 1: Red Sox at Yankees at 7:07 p.m. on FOX
Sunday, August 2: Red Sox at Yankees at 7:08 p.m. on ESPN
Saturday, August 15: Red Sox at Yankees at 7:07 p.m. on FOX
Sunday, August 16: Red Sox at Yankees at 7:08 p.m. on ESPN
Unsurprisingly, these nationally televised games are almost all against the Yankees. The lone exception is a road game against the Mets. While the Mets aren’t expected to be a contender, pitting two large market teams against each other had enough appeal to warrant airing the game on FOX.
The schedule also provides insight into how Boston is viewed entering the season. Battles between the Red Sox and Yankees will always draw an audience due to the history of their epic rivalry but the Bronx Bombers are the only contender that Boston will face on national TV. None of their games against the other top American League teams were deemed worthy of airing on FOX or ESPN.
It’s also notable that all of their nationally televised games are on the road, depriving fans in other markets from getting a glimpse of the legendary Fenway Park.
This indicates that the Red Sox are no longer viewed as a marquee team. Without the appeal of their rivalry with the Yankees, Boston isn’t viewed as a team that fans outside of their own market are interested in.
It’s hard to blame the TV networks for that perception. While the Red Sox are only two years removed from celebrating a World Series championship, much has changed since their last parade. Boston failed to make the playoffs last season and sputtered through an offseason of turmoil that undoubtedly left their roster in worse shape than they were in at the end of last year.
The national spotlight demands a contending team with recognizable players. Chris Sale won’t be pitching this season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Mookie Betts and David Price were traded away. Those are big-name players who casual fans across the country would tune in to watch.
Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers form and exiting young tandem to lead Boston’s lineup. Here in Boston we know how great they are but they haven’t earned the same level of nationwide recognition yet. There is still a fair amount of talent on this roster but Boston’s star power isn’t what it once was.
It’s possible that the Red Sox could surprise us with a postseason run that puts them back in the national spotlight in October. That would certainly do wonders for their chances of increased exposure in 2021. In the meantime, they are forced to rely on the two New York clubs to get them in front of a wider audience.