Major 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