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MLB Network Hires Former Exec VP of FSN and Senior VP of NFL Network Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 29 September 2008 13:37

MLB NetworkThe MLB Network has hired John Entz, formerly a Vice President and Executive Producer at Fox Sports Net, as the Senior Vice President of Production and Andy Butters, formerly Director of Program Planning at the NFL Network, as Vice President, Programming.

In his new position, Entz will be responsible for overseeing the look and presentation of the MLB Network’s studio programming and game coverage. Entz has most recently produced the MLB All-Star Game Red Carpet Show presented by Chevy and BCS Pregame specials for FOX Sports, as well as working on FOX Sports’ Super Bowl Pregame coverage. He also has overseen the daily production of Best Damn Sports Show Period and the show’s Top 50 Countdown specials since 2005. Prior to joining FOX Sports, Entz won a Sports Emmy award at ESPN as an Associate Producer and Production Assistant on SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight and NFL Primetime.

Butters will be responsible for the developing the network’s on air program schedule in his new position with MLB Network. Since 2006, Butters has been responsible for the launch of 13 new series at the NFL Network. Prior to joining the NFL Network, Butters worked at ESPN for 16 years concentrating on the selection of programming relating to MLB, NFL and Motor Sports. He also served as the day-part planner for ESPN’s main network in which he determined the show-by-show schedule for the year. A 1983 graduate of Washington & Lee University, he resides in Vernon, CT with his wife Sarah and son Eli.

Entz and Butters will both be reporting to Tony Petitti, President and Chief Executive Officer of the MLB Network.
“John and Andy will bring extensive knowledge and years of cable television experience to help shape the programming and production of the MLB Network,” said Petitti.

Projected to launch in approximately 50 million cable and satellite homes on January 1, 2009, MLB Network will exceed any other cable television launch in history by approximately 20 million.

Source: MLB Network


Maury Brown

Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer.

Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

Don't forget to register and log in on The Biz of Baseball site to get updates via your in-box, and see information only logged in members can see.

 
Logo Unveiled for MLB Network Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 02 September 2008 07:48

MLB Network LogoThe MLB Network, slated to launch on January 1 to a record 50 million cable and satellite households, now has a logo.

The logo for the 24/7 channel dedicated to Major League Baseball, sports the traditional silhouette of the batter that MLB has been using, featuring  red, white, and blue highlights, framed in a home plate.

“This identity is consistent with the timeless Major League Baseball logos,” says Tony Petitti, president and CEO of the MLB Network.

The logo will appear on all advertising and promotional items, be prominently displayed across programming, and be featured within in-studio related shows for the network.

Source: Broadcasting & Cable


Maury Brown

Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer.

Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

Don't forget to register and log in on The Biz of Baseball site to get updates via your in-box, and see information only logged in members can see.

 
It’s Official: Hazel Mae to MLB Network Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Saturday, 30 August 2008 14:06

Hazel MaeAs reported at the beginning of the month, Harold Reynolds and Hazel Mae were being considered as on-air personalities for the new MLB Network slated to launch January 1.

Today, the news that Hazel Mae will be on the fledgling net appears official.

The Boston Herald reports:

Former NESN sports siren Hazel Mae will be the new face of the MLB Network, sources told the Herald yesterday.

Mae, who left the Red Sox/Bruins station in June after four years on the “SportsDesk,” had been in talks with Channel 4. WBZ-TV reportedly wanted Mae to be the weekend sports anchor, but they couldn’t agree on a salary and, besides, she had her eye on the lead anchor spot vacated by Bob Lobel.

Mae’s agent could not be reached for comment. No official word as yet on whether Harold Reynolds has reached an agreement.

Thanks to Ken Fang of Fang's Bites


Maury Brown

Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer.

Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

Don't forget to register and log in on The Biz of Baseball site to get updates via your in-box, and see information only logged in members can see.

 
Report: Harold Reynolds, Hazel Mae Headed to MLB Network Print
Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 01 August 2008 10:17
Harold ReynoldsThe upcoming MLB Network is slated to launch January 1, and with that, the largest cable channel launch in history is speeding toward its on-air date.

While some aspects of the programming and staffing are known (a Hot Stove show will be the first to air, a good amount of studio shows, classic games will initially be passed over in favor of a “classic innings” type program, and heavy use of historical archives from MLB Productions), any on-air talent has yet to be announced.

That may be changing. Word through today’s Sports Business Daily is that current former ESPN and current MLB Advanced Media and TBS analyst Harold Reynolds will be part of the on-air talent, as well as former NESN anchor, Hazel Mae.

The 24/7 MLB Network is slated to launch to 50 million television households, on the basic tier, making it accessible to anyone with cable or as part of a satellite package.

 
DirecTV Launches "GameSearch" for Blackouts Print
Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 21 May 2008 13:10

DirecTVDirecTV announced a new technology today that they tout as being the "first in sports broadcasting technology with GameSearch, a new search-engine based technology that illuminates the problem of local sports game blackouts for frustrated fans. When a DIRECTV receiver is tuned-in to a channel with a blacked-out game, GameSearch recognizes the blackout and immediately looks to see if the game is on another channel."

Blackouts, especially for baseball has been a cumbersome and convoluted process for consumers. DirecT"V is working to captialize on that.

"Blackouts have always been the bane of sports fans and while we can't make them go away, we can be the first to make it easier for fans, who have been left in the dark, to find their game if it's being broadcast on another channel," said Eric Shanks, executive vice president of DIRECTV Entertainment. "Like our HD and interactive services, GameSearch is another DIRECTV technological innovation developed in response to what our customers want and what will provide them with the ultimate viewing experience."

GameSearch will automatically recognize when the DIRECTV receiver is tuned-in to a channel with a sports blackout. The search engine will immediately scan the DIRECTV channel lineup to find alternative channels that may be broadcasting the blacked-out game. If a non-blacked out broadcast of the game is found, GameSearch displays an on-screen message giving the viewer the option to tune in to that channel. If a non-blacked out version is not available, an on-screen message will let the viewer know the game is not available. When a game is scheduled to be recorded on a DVR, GameSearch will find the game that is not in black-out and automatically record it.

DirecTV adds that, "The GameSearch technology is free of charge to DIRECTV customers and is now available to customers with DIRECTV's top-of-the-line HD DVR HR20 and HR21 receivers, as well as the just-released R22 SD DVR. Later this year the service will be rolled out to basic DVRS (R15 and R16) and next year to HD (H20 and H21) receivers."

Source: DirecTV 

 
It's Official: Petitti Named Pres. and CEO MLB Network Print
Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 24 April 2008 20:26

Tony PetittiThe news that was reported in advance was made official Thursday: Tony Petitti has been named President and Chief Executive Officer of the MLB Network.

Commissioner Selig made the announcement, and with the annoucement, we now know when to click through the channels to find it. The launch of the biggest cable and satillite televison channel launch in history will be on January 1, 2009.

Petitti joins the MLB Network after serving as the Executive Vice President and Executive Producer for CBS Sports, where he oversaw all daily operations, including production, personnel and editorial content. In January 2008, Petitti assumed responsibility for day-to-day operations of CSTV and was instrumental in its transformation to the CBS College Sports Network.

“Tony has extraordinary experience in the television field and we are pleased that he will lead the MLB Network and prepare for its 2009 launch,” Selig said. “Throughout his career, Tony’s ability and knowledge have led to great success, which will benefit our great game in the years to come.”

Petitti originally joined CBS Sports in February 1997 as Senior Vice President, Business Affairs and Programming, in which he played a key role in negotiating contracts for continued coverage of the PGA Tour and the network’s re-acquisition of the NFL. In August 1999, Tony became the Vice President and General Manager of WCBS-TV in New York before re-joining CBS Sports in 2002. The five-time Emmy Award Winner was named Executive Producer in July 2002 and later appointed Executive Vice President in December 2005. In 2000, Sports Business Journal honored Petitti as part of its “40 Under 40” top executives in the industry.

“Providing baseball dedicated programming 24 hours a day, seven days a week on a year-round basis is a tremendous and exciting opportunity,” said Petitti. “Major League Baseball has a vast amount of valuable content, both live and historical, and a passionate fan base. There is enormous potential and a great opportunity for success with the MLB Network’s scheduled record launch in approximately 50 million homes.”

Prior to joining CBS Sports, Petitti served as Senior Vice President, Negotiations for NBC Sports and as Vice President, Programming for ABC Sports. With ABC, Tony was responsible for the acquisition of college football regular season and bowl games, college basketball, the Little League World Series and NASCAR events. In addition, he is credited for creating the Bowl Championship Series to determine college football’s national champion.

Petitti, who began his professional career in the field of law before joining ABC Sports in 1988, graduated from Haverford College in 1983 with a degree in economics and from Harvard Law School in 1986. In May 2006, Haverford selected Tony as the recipient of the prestigious Lawrence Forman Award, presented to a superior Haverford athlete who has devoted a significant portion of their energy to the betterment of society throughout his or her career.

The MLB Network, which will broadcast baseball programming 24 hours a day, is projected to launch into approximately 50 million cable and satellite homes, exceeding any other cable television launch in history by approximately 20 million homes.

Source: Major League Baseball 

 


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Top CBS Exec Tapped to Run Upcoming MLB Network Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 23 April 2008 13:24

MLBTony Petitti, Executive Vice-President and Executive Producer at CBS, has been hired by MLB to run the upcoming MLB Network, which launches next season as the largest cable channel launch in history. According to John Ourand of the Sports Business Daily, Petitti, the number 2 at CBS is taking MLB up on the offer because he is interested in a leadership position, which was not available at CBS. Petitti reported to CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus.

The approval of Petitti comes by way of the MLB Network board, which includes the following executives at the owner, MLB executive, and network levels:

Royals Owner David Glass, White Sox Chair Jerry Reinsdorf, Red Sox Chair Tom Werner, Mets co-Owner Jeff Wilpon and A's Owner Lewis Wolff, MLB President Bob DuPuy and Exec VP/Business Tim Brosnan, along with DirecTV President Chase Carey and Comcast COO Steve Burke.

OTHER NEWS ACROSS THE BUSINESS OF SPORTS NETWORK

 
Tell Your MLB Extra Innings TV Blackout Story Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Saturday, 19 April 2008 12:42

MLB Extra InningsThis weekend, as with every weekend in the baseball season, those that have MLB Extra Innings will find their screens blank. You’ve paid your bill. You purchased the package thinking you’d at least be able to use it every day.

Welcome to MLB’s blackout policy.

While you can catch a game on FOX, TBS, and ESPN this weekend, those are available to everyone (TBS games means you have to have cable to see). Paying for Extra Innings… well, no such luck during the weekends.

There are also the local blackout restrictions to go with weekend blackouts, as well.

With that, we’re running this post to allow you to tell your story. More than one club reads the site daily. So does MLB, the MLBPA, and MLBAM.

Post your story, and please… no diatribes.

Post your comments here.

MORE ON MLB's BLACKOUT POLICY


OTHER NEWS ACROSS THE BUSINESS OF SPORTS NETWORK

 
On Baseball Prospectus: Not Quite Catching All the Action Print
Written by Maury Brown   
Saturday, 12 April 2008 10:01

Baseball Prospectus

With the weekend upon us, many of you are thinking, “I’ll catch some games on MLB Extra Innings, or on MLB.TV”, well... not really.

Today, on Baseball Prospectus, I go over the national and local blackout policy for those stuck with MLB Extra Innings, MLB.TV and blank screens today. As I write in Blackout Blues: Not Quite Catching All the Action:

Let's start with MLB's pure money grab: national exclusivity deals. Every Saturday, from 1:10 PM ET or before 7:05 PM ET, all games are blacked out due to an exclusivity agreement with FOX, which typically broadcasts one game starting at 3:55 Eastern. That means in a six-hour window in which games are being played, six today, you can watch two at most--the Fox game and your local team if it's playing on TV in that window and isn't the Fox game. On a day such as April 5, the Fox blackout means just four games show up on Extra Innings. On Sundays, ESPN holds the rights to night games, so any games that start after 5 p.m. ET are blacked out. In practice, this only affects a handful of games, as almost all Sunday games are played in the daytime. To add more hair-pulling to the mix, TBS is now in the fray. TBS airs 26 Sunday afternoon games this year which are blacked out in local markets--TBS can air an alternate game in those areas, and as many as 13 of any single team. So those of you in Boston and New York may barely be aware of TBS' new arrangement by the end of the season.

There’s plenty more to scratch your head about for you DirecTV and iNDemand with EI, or MLB.TV customers. MLB may be looking to address the blackout policy in advance of the MLB Network launch, but if you’re thinking about something like the NFL has, forget it. You’re still going to be hit with blackouts, this year and next. Fans are hit in the head with a scorching foul ball when it comes to blackouts.


OTHER NEWS ACROSS THE BUSINESS OF SPORTS NETWORK


Maury Brown

Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer.

Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

 
Back in Black: Extra Innings and MLB.TV Blackouts Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 03 April 2008 23:09

TV StaticAs sure as the swing of the bats and the crack of the ball signify the Boys of Summer are back, fan dissatisfaction at MLB’s television blackout policy arrives in full bloom. The range of emotions run from confusion, to outright rage, and all points in-between.

This topic has become a well worn topic here at The Biz of Baseball for me, so much so that during negotiations for Extra Innings last year, and the announcement of the upcoming MLB Network set to launch next year, we devoted an entire section to the site. Looking back through the comments made by customers will find many new to this topic shaking their heads in bewilderment.

Some are upset at how national broadcasts impact blackouts of local games being broadcast. Most, however, are frustrated at how blackouts impact MLB’s out-of-market television package, MLB Extra Innings, or how policy impacts games streamed on MLB.TV over the internet.

Here’s how the blackout policy for nationally broadcasted games works, as defined by MLB.com:

  • Local Live Blackout: ALL LIVE MLB.TV games will be blacked out in each applicable Club's home television territory (except for certain home television territories for which MLB.com may offer in-market subscription services) or in Japan.
  • National Live Blackout (Regular Season): Due to Major League Baseball national exclusivities, each Saturday until 7:00 PM EST (beginning May 17, 2008 and continuing for remaining Saturdays during the regular season) and each Sunday night (for games that begin after 5:00 PM EST), all scheduled webcasts of games played within such time period will be blacked out.
  • National Live Blackout (Post Season): Due to Major League Baseball national exclusivities, during the MLB postseason, if you live within the following nations or territories, webcasts of all postseason games will be blacked out: United States, Canada, Guam, US Virgin Islands, South Korea and Japan.
  • NOTE: Due to broadcast restrictions, new MLB.TV and Condensed Game archives are limited to a playing time of five minutes in duration until 6 am ET on the day following that on which the applicable game commenced play.

Confused? You’re not the only one. And that's just the national blackout policy.

At the local level, blackout restrictions impact home games where you are deemed to be in the “local” market. If your “local” team is on the road outside of the “local” market (sorry Mr. and Ms. Las Vegas hoping to see the Diamondbacks play the Dodgers in LA, the Dodgers are your local team, as well), you can catch the team via a feed outside of the local restriction.

While the NFL defines “local” market as a 75-mile radius around the stadium location where a team plays in a given market, MLB’s television markets have no rhyme or reason to them. They are negotiated in a manner that creates overlapping territories by as many as six teams, and can cover vast regions of the country.

Case in point, the Seattle Mariners.

For the uninitiated, wrap your head around this: All of Washington, Montana, parts of Alaska, Idaho, Canada, and Oregon is considered the Mariners “local market”.  Understandably, this is an incredibly lucrative position for the Mariners to be in. They recently reached an agreement with regional sports network FSNW that is reportedly $500 million. The Mariners have been one of the most profitable clubs in the league due to the television revenues. As Mariners president Chuck Armstrong said to me in an interview for The Biz of Baseball,

What had the biggest effect on that was finally getting a cable television contract. It was an act of Congress that allowed sports teams to allocate television territories, and I have been astonished at the impact of cable television. While we don’t have that many people in our market, we have the largest territory in terms of square miles. We have Washington, Oregon (although we share the six most southern counties with the A’s and the Giants), Idaho, Montana, Alaska, and then as against all other U.S. teams, we have British Columbia and Alberta. Getting that cable contract increased our reach and made fans in Montana, Oregon, Alberta, and British Columbia, and Alaska of course. We turned them into Mariner fans.

So while this has created added revenues, and in turn allowed for increased payroll flexibility for the Mariners, it has placed the consumer in a bind based on the broadcast territories. And, as recently as yesterday, an Anchorage resident that said he had been able to get games due to not being “local” last season, finds himself in the blackout blues, this.

As mentioned, territories overlap, which can impact what game you can, or rather, can’t see for more than one team.

Here are the most extreme examples:

If you live in Las Vegas, you are subject to “local television” blackout restrictions for the Dodgers, Angels, Giants, Athletics, Padres, and Diamondbacks.

In parts of Iowa, you can be blacked out for the Royals, White Sox, Cubs, Cardinals, Twins, and Brewers.

So, when you hear that “every game is available” beware, because that’s really stretching the truth unless you look deep inside the “blackout restrictions apply” part of the fine print. Backing out of agreements with MLB.com or DirecTV is nearly impossible once you make the jump.

How does one find out if you’re going to be trapped in more than one “local” territory? Well, set aside some time. You have to look up what games are available by Zip Code.

Here’s the location for DirecTV to look up games.

Placing a Las Vegas zip code gets you a line-up devoid of “local” games. In other words, you can catch the Diamondbacks because they’re in Cincinnati playing the Reds, or the Angels because they’re playing in Minneapolis against the Twins. But, if you want to watch the Padres play the Astros in San Diego, you’re blacked out for the game even though San Diego is about 340 miles, or 6.5 to 7 hours driving time away.

Over two years ago, Commissioner Selig was asked about the blackout policy in baseball.

"I hear more about people who can't get the game," Selig said, "and, yes, I've already told our people we have to do something about it."

Well, as baseball goes, welcome to dragging your feet. "Doing something about it" means waiting until MLB is shoved into the corner on the issue.

I have written on more than one occasion that the arcane policy would have to be addressed when 50 million cable subscribers turn on games next year on the MLB Network. The proposal is for approx. 26 games a year on the new network. If the policy, as it stands, is still in place, watch for consumers to scream loud and clear. But, the fact of the matter is, there’s no way on earth that the policy gets to the NFL’s level. All consumers will be seeing, at best, is a tweaking of the policy. In the meantime, I’m interested, as always, in hearing your stories on how you are impacted. The more that understand the restrictions, the less frustrating it should be… or rather, the frustrated on the sidelines will avoid signing up for “out-of-market” packages, or those that have the package can take solace in the notion that at least they’re not alone.

To see more on this topic, as well as Dan Werr’s television territories mapping from a few years ago before the Expos relocated to Washington, DC and impacted the Orioles and Nationals TV territories, read Why MLB Relocation/Expansion Won't Be Happening Soon

Don't forget to add your comments


OTHER NEWS ACROSS THE BUSINESS OF SPORTS NETWORK


Maury Brown

Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer.

Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

 
Batter Print
Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 31 March 2008 04:42

ComcastLast week, we reported that Comcast would not be carrying MLB Extra Innings in High-Def, much to the consternation of customers. There was a mixed set of signals from “not enough bandwidth” to "It's most likely because we don't have an agreement to carry it in HD."

Now, comes word that Comcast will indeed carry Extra Innings in HD. As reported by TVPredictions.com:

... In Demand spokeswoman Ellen Cooper told TVPredictions.com on Friday (March 28) that every cable operator that carries the Extra Innings package (including SD games) has the rights to also offer the HD games.

Asked about Cooper's statement, Moyer acknowledged in an e-mail Friday night that Comcast does have the rights to offer the high-def games.

She added: "Ellen is in fact correct and I have confirmed that. We do have the rights to offer MLB (Extra Innings) in HD and local systems are deciding whether to offer it...Some of our systems will carry MLB EI in HD this season."

As of Opening Day, word had not yet arrived in which markets Comcast might be showing EI in HD.

Keep us posted. Do you have Comcast? Do, or don’t have Extra Innings in HD? Post a comment.


OTHER NEWS ACROSS THE BUSINESS OF SPORTS NETWORK 


Maury Brown

Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer.

Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

 
Extra Innings in HD: No for Comcast. More for DirecTV Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 19 March 2008 22:00

ComcastThose that have Comcast as their carrier for MLB Extra Innings will, yet again, find that HD is not an option for them.

Subscribers that have contacted Comcast inquiring as to whether Extra Innings will be shown this season have been informed that they will not, “due to bandwidth issues.”

This is the same commentary that was delivered to customers last year.

The Business of Sports Network contacted Comcast’s corporate communications earlier in the week in an effort to get a definitive explanation as to why the carrier is not showing games in High-Def, as “lack of bandwidth” seems vague, at best.

As of publication, Comcast has yet to reply.

However, TV Predictions published an article outlining what we have heard from readers, in addition to more details from Comcast:

Asked why, [Comcast spokeswoman Jenni Moyer]  said it wasn't because the cable operator didn't have room on its system for the HD games which require more capacity.

"It's most likely because we don't have an agreement to carry it in HD," she said.

As mentioned, we look forward to hearing exactly why Comcast is not carrying EI in High-Definition.

As for those using DirecTV as their carrier, the news is much better. As further reported by TV Predictions:

DIRECTV has said it will offer up to 40 Extra Innings games a week in HD, although the high-def coverage will cost an additional $50 over the standard package of $179.

For those keeping score, DirecTV carried 10 games in HD last season. 

As we reported extensively last year, EchoStar’s DISH Network was not part of the group of carriers that reached agreement with MLB to provide MLB Extra Innings. The providers that did reach agreement to carry EI, and partner with MLB on the upcoming MLB Network are:

  • DirecTV
  • Charter Communications
  • Cablevision
  • iNDemand (Time Warner Entertainment-Advance/Newhouse Partnership, Comcast iN Demand Holdings Corp and Cox Communication)

DirecTVThose looking for the SuperFan Package, will only find that package available via DirecTV. That package includes:

MLB EXTRA INNINGS HD Games
Up to 40 games a week in HD

To access SUPERFAN HD programming, a 5-LNB Multi-Satellite Dish, a DIRECTV HD Receiver, HD television equipment and HD Access Fee ($9.99/mo.) are required.

MLB EXTRA INNINGS Game Mix
Eight games on a single screen.

Actual number of games varies by market. Blackout restrictions and other conditions apply.

MLB EXTRA INNINGS STRIKE ZONE CHANNEL™
Advertised as, “the best plays from around the league.”

Strike Zone Channel broadcast three days per week.

An extensive list of every cable operator that will be carrying the upcoming MLB Network, is available to those registered and logged into The Biz of Baseball here:

See our extensive section on MLB Extra Innings, and the upcoming MLB Network, slated to launch in 2009


Maury Brown

Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer.

Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

 
MLB Network Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 30 January 2008 20:37

MLB Network Office TowerWhen you are about to launch the biggest cable channel launch in history, you need a nice place to do it in.

That’s what Major League Baseball hopes to do when it as they plan to by build a 21-story office tower of interlocking glass blocks on 125th Street and Park Ave. in Harlem to house the upcoming MLB Network.

MLB Network will be baseball’s first foray into 24 hour television, with all carriers placing it on the basic tier, the level at which the most subscribers have access. In total, the estimated subscriber base at launch will be 47 million households.

The new home for the MLB Network will be the first prime office tower in Harlem in three decades. As reported by the NY Times:

“Harlem Park will be the area’s first Class-A office tower in decades and will attract major tenants, showcasing the economic growth under way in Harlem,” said Robert C. Lieber, the deputy mayor for economic development. “We’re still negotiating with Vornado and Major League Baseball, and if we are able to get it done, it will be a home run for the entire area.”

Real estate executives said that Major League Baseball was completing negotiations to lease about one-fifth of the planned 630,000-square-foot building. That would include the second and third floors for broadcast studios and editing, as well as the top two floors of the tower for the network’s executive and sales offices.

The MLB Network, slated to launch in 2009 is a partnership with MLB and several carriers, which own each 16.67 percent stake. They include DirecTV, Comcast, Time Warner and Cox.

(Read more on the MLB Network and MLB Extra Innings, here on The Biz of Baseball’s extensive catalog)


Maury Brown

Maury Brown is the founder and president of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is also an author for Baseball Prospectus, Basketball Prospectus and is an available as a freelance writer.

Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

 
More MLB Network and Extra Innings Details Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 28 May 2007 14:24

MLB Extra InningsFor those that followed the Extra Innings saga recently (see The Biz of Baseball Extra Innings/MLB Network article archive), you know that we kept saying that it wasn't really Extra Innings that was at the heart of reaching an agreement with the key players (DirecTV, iN Demand, DISH, Cablevision, Charter, etc.), it was how MLB wanted carriage of what is now called the MLB Network to be handled.

As we now know, it was the pressure of Extra Innings that drove the players on the opposite of the table from MLB to get the MLB Network on the basic tier, not the sports tier. By making carriage of the MLB Network integral to Extra Innings, when MLB launches the channel in 2009 it will make the largest cable channel launch in the history of television. Richard Sandomir of the NY Times has a very good retrospective of the Extra Innings/MLB Network deal, and within it, key information on it becomes available. As reported:

The lucrative deal will:

¶Pay M.L.B. an average of $80 million annually for Extra Innings.

¶Generate total cable subscriber fees of $112 million in 2009 and $152.7 million in 2015, according to a presentation made to owners on May 17 in Manhattan by the investment firm Allen & Company. Baseball must split those revenues with cable and DirecTV.

¶Produce advertising revenues that will rise to $65 million in 2015.

¶Create an asset in the new network that Allen estimates is worth $1.2 billion to baseball, based on its two-thirds ownership stake. DirecTV ended up with a 16.67 percent stake, Comcast with 8.34 percent, Time Warner 6.35 percent and Cox 1.98 percent, based on their proportional shares of subscribers in the network.

The figures cited by Sandomir are truly impressive. 

As mentioned repeatedly, control of the channel as an asset is a key piece in why MLB was so focused on the channel. By controlling the asset, you remove the middle-man, and increase the value. MLB has always been very tight with film footage, charging high fees for rebroadcasting of nearly all of it. With that, they sit on a goldmine of material for the new network given MLB's longevity and frugal nature with the content.

Think of it... while the NFL has been a blip in time by comparison to MLB, NFL Films has been around since 1962. MLB has had no such outlet, thus holding their treasure trove of footage close to the vest. With that, footage that many have not seen since they aired live, may now be broadcast, and with that, interest will be fairly high for classic game footage.

It remains to be seen if the channel will hold the collective conscious of Cable Channel Nation. Given the fact that the channel will launch to 47 million households, it is bound to be a let down based purely on the gaudy number of cable households. MLB, however, gets the last laugh, upstaging the NFL, and more than that... bragging rights for being able to pull off a deal that at one point had consumers outraged, Congress breathing down their back, and cable operators in a tiff, and coming out smelling like pure green.

 
MLB Network: Biggest Cable Launch... Ever Print
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Written by The Staff   
Wednesday, 23 May 2007 17:00

MLBWhen the MLB Network (initially named The Baseball Channel) launches in 2009, it will mark the biggest cable channel launch in history, reaching nearly 47 million households, by way of the 36 distributors that made deals for Extra Innings. By way of comparison, when MSNBC launched in July 1996 it reached 28 million homes.

There have been numerous questions by consumers across the nation wondering if they would have access to MLB Extra Innings, or to the up-coming MLB Network. To that end, we provide the following:

A full list is now available on The Biz of Baseball of those that will, and will not have the channel when it goes online in 2009. Select the MLB Network Carriers link here, or access the link in the navigation tier within The Biz of Baseball from any page within the site in the future.

 
Owners Approve Extra Innings & MLB Network Deal Print
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Written by The Staff   
Thursday, 17 May 2007 06:57

MLB Extra InningsMajor League Baseball's 30 owners today approved the agreement brokered between DirecTV and iN Demand over MLB Extra Innings, and the upcoming MLB Network slated to launch in 2009. When The Baseball Channel is launched, it will reach 47 million homes. As reported by the AP:

"That will exceed any other cable channel launch in cable television history by almost 20 million homes," baseball executive vice president Tim Brosnan said, adding that the current high was set by MSNBC, which was available in 28 million homes a year after its launch in 1996.

The MLB Network will broadcast baseball programming 24 hours a day, including a weekly Saturday night live game during the regular season.

 Brosnan said affiliation agreements were in place with 33 multisystem operators of cable television networks to carry the MLB Network on their widest digital tier. Baseball owns two-thirds of the network, DirecTV owns one-sixth and Comcast, Cox and Time-Warner Cable own the remaining sixth.

Eric Fisher of the Sports Business Journal breaks down the MLB Network's ownership equity structure:

The channel is two-thirds owned by MLB, with 16.67% of the equity held by DirecTV and the remaining amount split proportionally between InDemand partners Comcast, Time Warner and Cox.

The approval is the final step in what was viewed a continuous issue for fans at one stage. For a considerable period of time, MLB was looking to do an exclusive arrangement with DirecTV for the out-of-market package, MLB Extra Innings.

To view articles and discussions on the Extra Innings deal, select this link, or access the Extra Innings link from The Biz of Baseball navigation tier under Media News

 
Charter Inks Deal for MLB Extra Innings Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Saturday, 05 May 2007 05:34

Charter CommunicationsReports are coming in that Charter Communications inked a deal late Friday night that will allow them to carry MLB Extra Innings. Customer service representatives are informing customers that the sports package to allow fans to view out-of-market games may be on-air as early as Monday for those that have already placed orders for the package, and that new orders will be offered on Tuesday May 8th for $159.96 (or 4 payments of $39.99).

Further details will be forthcoming on Monday on The Biz of Baseball

 
Cablevision Inks Deal for MLB Extra Innings Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 04 May 2007 05:45

CablevisionCablevision has reached an agreement to carry MLB Extra Innings. The carrier made the announcement.

Financial details have not yet been released. Cablevision will not have an ownership equity in the upcoming The Baseball Channel as other carriers, DirecTV and iN Demand have agreed to with MLB.

“We are pleased to have reached this agreement, which will allow us to again offer the MLB Extra Innings package and these out-of-market baseball games to our iO digital cable customers,” said Mac Budill, Cablevision’s executive vice president of programming in a statement.

“iO is the best choice for New York-area sports fans, featuring leading national sports programming, all four regional sports networks, and the most local sports in high-definition, so it was important for us to be able to offer MLB’s comprehensive games package along with all of the other sports programming our iO customers expect.” As
reported by Multichannel News:

Cablevision said it will sell the Extra Innings package for $159, offering up to 60 out-of-market baseball games each week for the entire season. Cablevision subscribers can order Extra Innings with their remote controls on channel 900.

Other than In Demand’s owners, Cablevision is the only major cable operator that has agreed to launch MLB Channel.

Other carriers have until today to ink a deal for Extra Innings or risk not having the package available until 2013 when the current agreements with Cablevision, DirecTV, and iN Demand, a consortium of cable operators. Negotiations with Charter Communications were still on-going for the package.

 
D-Day For MLB Extra Innings Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 04 May 2007 01:08

MLB Extra InningsToday is the deadline for any carrier that did not already ink a deal for MLB Extra Innings to get an agreement signed, or they will be unable to negotiate for the package until 2013 when DirecTV and iN Demand's deal with MLB expires.

As we've been reporting for sometime on The Biz of Baseball, the biggest players are Cablevision and Charter Communications. Both companies have said that they are working on completing a deal, which is contingent on placing The Baseball Channel on the basic tier when it goes online in 2009. Charter has said that they are very close to reaching a deal, while Cablevision's comments have been more of the "we hope to get a deal done" variety.

As for DISH Network subscribers, chances of a deal being worked out with them are now virtually nil. More than one source has told The Biz of Baseball that no communication between the parties have taken place in weeks, and their website posts a message saying that "an agreement with Major League Baseball regarding the Extra Innings package no longer exists."

So, today is D-Day for those that wish for MLB Extra Innings on one of the smaller carriers that didn't already ink a deal. Stay tuned as we look to report any news on negotiations as it breaks.

Got comments on the Extra Innings deal? Do it here on The Biz of Baseball  

 
Extra Innings: Charter Working Toward Friday Deadline Print
Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 01 May 2007 04:33

Extra InningsAs we reported in mid-April, Charter Communications has been working to finalize a deal that would allow MLB Extra Innings to be broadcast with the carrier. Now, Charter is staring at a Friday deadline to get the deal done. A sticking point, as before, is placing The Baseball Channel on the basic tier, something that Charter would prefer not to do. As reported by the Reno-Gazette Journal:

"We are desperately trying to get this concluded by the end of the month at the latest," [George Jostlin, director of government affairs and public relations for Charter Reno] said, adding that a May 4 deadline has been set for the deal to be completed. "The deal will happen, it's a matter of dotting I's, crossing T's, and making sure that everybody can live with the legalese."

Jostlin said that if a customer wants to be added to the priority waiting list, they should do so in person at Charter's south Reno office at 9335 Prototype Drive.

While this article does not specify, it would seem that Charter in total would work this deal, not just Charter Reno.

Stay tuned. 

 
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