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MLB Network

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Template:Infobox TV channel

MLB Network is a television specialty channel dedicated to professional baseball. It is primarily owned by Major League Baseball.[1] Comcast, DirecTV, Time Warner and Cox Communications have minority ownership of the new network, with MLB retaining a controlling two-thirds share.[2] The channel's headquarters and studios are located in the Secaucus, New Jersey facility which housed MSNBC's former studios until their 2007 move to 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Profitability is expected by the end of 2009, according to industry sources. And by 2015, revenue from cable subscriber fees and advertising is projected to soar beyond $210 million, with a net value easily exceeding $1 billion.[1]

The network soft-launched on December 16, 2008 with a rolling automated loop of archival programming and promotions for the network for cable systems that carried the network's transmissions leading up to the January 1 launch.

Major League Baseball is the fourth major North American professional sports league to launch its own network. NBA TV dates back to 1999, the NFL Network to 2003, and the US version of the NHL Network to 2007. However, MLBN is carried in the most households of these four networks, largely because of the financial participation of the cable systems.

Tony Petitti, former executive producer of CBS Sports, has been named the network's first president.

ContentEdit

MLB Network carries 26 live baseball games on Thursday nights.[3] Other early programming includes portions of the 2009 World Baseball Classic, the 2009 Caribbean Series and highlights, studio programming, international and development league games, and archival material. [1]

CarriageEdit

The network has signed contracts with 36 cable and satellite carriers. In a deal that may be copied by other sports league owned channels, MLB tied carriage of the MLB Network to the ability to carry the popular out of market MLB Extra Innings package. In return, cable and satellite providers were offered a minority share of the new network. The only major television provider that isn't currently carrying the channel is Dish Network, who also does not carry MLB Extra Innings, denying approximately 15 million subscribers. Dish Network has not carried the package since 2006.

Comcast does not carry this channel on their "Digital Starter" package, even though the network was initially supposed to be carried on "digital cable at the "digital basic" or equivalent level of service." according to the MLB Network website at the beginning of 2009. The language on the MLB Network website was later updated to "expanded digital basic cable or the equivalent."

InternationalEdit

As of December 2008, no announcements have been made about MLB Network availability outside the U.S., particularly in Canada, home of the Toronto Blue Jays. Network officials have been in contact with Blue Jays owner (and Canada's largest cable company) Rogers Communications about making MLB Network available in Canada, but have emphasized that a deal is not imminent.[4]

In August 2008, Rogers secured CRTC approval for a Canadian digital channel tentatively called "Baseball TV",[5] which has not yet launched. This license could be used to launch a localized version of MLB Network with domestic advertising and additional Canadian content, similar to the current Raptors NBA TV. This appears to be Rogers' preferred option.[6] An alternative would be for MLB and a sponsoring cable or satellite company (such as Rogers) to seek separate CRTC approval to import the U.S. channel directly, as has been done with NFL Network.

MLB Network HDEdit

MLB Network HD is a 720p high definition simulcast of MLB Network, which launched simultaneously to the regular channel.[7] All studio programs are shot in HD. The network is also currently remastering 30 World Series Films in high definition. [8] Programs not available in HD (mostly older game footage) have unique stylized pillarboxes: brick walls reminiscent of an older baseball stadium, with the MLB Network logo in the middle.

The 720p format is also used by MLB national broadcast partners FOX and ESPN. Fox Sports Net, which holds the rights to local game coverage of several teams, also uses the 720p format.

DirecTV, [9] Verizon FiOS, [10] and Cablevision [11] carry the HD version. Some Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks systems do as well. [citation needed]

On-air talentEdit

Studio hostsEdit

Studio analystsEdit

ReportersEdit

Baseball insidersEdit

  • Jon Heyman: (2009-present) Hot Stove and MLB Tonight [23]
  • Tom Verducci: (2009-present) Hot Stove and MLB Tonight [24]

ProgrammingEdit

  • MLB Tonight: The signature show of MLB Network, which airs Monday thru Saturday from 6pm Eastern until the final MLB game of the night is over. The show features exclusive live look-ins using their own cameras with shots not available on the channel covering the game, updates, highlights, news and analysis.[25]
  • Hot Stove: During the offseason, Hot Stove is the signature program on MLB Network, airing at 7pm Monday thru Friday. It features news reports and analysis of all offseason moves as teams prepare for the upcoming season.[26]
  • World Baseball Classic Tonight: Debuting in late February 2009, World Baseball Classic Tonight will feature highlights, analysis and special reports on the tournament.[27]

In addition to the afforementioned Hot Stove program, off-season programming include:

  • Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns: The Emmy Award winning documentary mini-series, which originally aired on PBS in 1994, airs on MLB Network.
  • Prime Nine: A series devoted to the topic of the nine greatest in anything involved with baseball.
  • Baseball's Seasons: A documentary series set against the events of a certain baseball season.
  • World Champions: Highlights of a particular World Series.
  • Highlights of past Home Run Derby contests.
  • All Time Games: Classic baseball games. The premiere episode on January 1 was Game 5 of the 1956 World Series in which Don Larsen hurled the Fall Classic's only perfect game, framed by a sit-down interview with Larsen and Yogi Berra by Bob Costas. [28]
  • Inside the Moments: A series premiering January 2 that features memorable moments and the stories behind them. The first five episodes: Aura of the Home Run, Icons of the Game, Unforgettable Feats, Magic on the Mound and Fall Classic Finales
  • Rising Sons: A documentary on how Japanese players have adjusted to life in America.
  • Pride and Perseverance: The Story of the Negro Leagues: A one hour special narrarated by Hall of Famer Dave Winfield on the history of Negro League Baseball prior to Jackie Robinson's debut on April 15, 1947.
  • October Classics is complete re-airings of World Series in their entirety. Each week a different series has been featured. First was the 2008 World Series, then the 2007 World Series, and then the 2006 World Series.
  • MLB Network will air team history specials such as Red Sox Memories and the series Cathedrals of the Game if possible.
  • In February, the network will embark on a month-long tour of spring training camps titled 30 Teams, 30 Days, coming from a different facility each day.

StudiosEdit

The Secaucus-based studios have two main sets, named after famous players. "Studio 3", named in honor of Babe Ruth, serves as the home plate for all studio programs, while "Studio 42", honoring Jackie Robinson, is a half-scale baseball field where demonstrations by the network's analysts takes place. The studio includes seating for over 125 people, and a real-time out of town scoreboard based on those similar to PNC Park and Citizens Bank Park.

The network had planned to launch permanent studios from a new tower in Manhattan's Harlem neighborhood by 2011 [29]; however due to the 2008 financial crisis, the building project was scaled back and later cancelled in late November 2008 [30].

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Eric Fisher & John Ourand (2008-03-31). Fitting the pieces of the MLB Network. Sports Business Journal. Retrieved on 2008-04-15.
  2. John Helyar (2007-12-27). In stare-down with Big Cable over Pats-Giants, the NFL blinked. ESPN.com. Retrieved on 2007-12-27.
  3. [1]
  4. Marcus DiNitto, MLB Network: What you will see on Jan. 1, Sporting News, November 22, 2008
  5. Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2008-171
  6. William Houston, "Baseball TV may launch this year", The Globe and Mail, January 7, 2009
  7. MLB Steps Up to the Plate
  8. Multichannel News 12/27/08 MLB Network Transferring 30 World Series Films to HD Format
  9. DirecTV channel changes
  10. [2]
  11. Mutlichannel News 12/30/08 Cablevision Sends MLB Network Up in Standard, HD Formats
  12. http://mlbnetwork.mlb.com/news/press_releases/press_release.jsp?ymd=20081226&content_id=3728695&vkey=pr_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb
  13. MLB Network adds Victor Rojas to on-air talent lineup. MLB.com (2008-12-10). Retrieved on 2008-12-14.
  14. MLB Network signs Vasgersian. MLB.com (2008-11-05). Retrieved on 2008-11-08.
  15. http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20081222&content_id=3726078&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb
  16. MLB Network signs Reynolds and Leiter. MLB.com (2008-11-12). Retrieved on 2008-11-12.
  17. http://blogs.tampabay.com/rays/2008/11/magrane-leaving.html
  18. http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/news/article_entertainment.jsp?ymd=20081205&content_id=3703967&vkey=entertainment&fext=.jsp
  19. MLB Network signs Reynolds and Leiter. MLB.com (2008-11-12). Retrieved on 2008-11-12.
  20. http://mlbnetwork.mlb.com/news/press_releases/press_release.jsp?ymd=20081226&content_id=3728695&vkey=pr_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb
  21. MLB Network signs Reynolds and Leiter. MLB.com (2008-11-12). Retrieved on 2008-11-12.
  22. MLB Network signs Reynolds and Leiter. MLB.com (2008-11-12). Retrieved on 2008-11-12.
  23. http://mlbnetwork.mlb.com/news/press_releases/press_release.jsp?ymd=20081226&content_id=3728695&vkey=pr_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb
  24. http://mlb.mlb.com/news/press_releases/press_release.jsp?ymd=20081229&content_id=3729684&vkey=pr_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb
  25. MLB Network signs Vasgersian. MLB.com (2008-11-05). Retrieved on 2008-11-08.
  26. MLB Network signs Vasgersian. MLB.com (2008-11-05). Retrieved on 2008-11-08.
  27. MLB Network to televise 2009 World Baseball Classic
  28. MLB Network 1/1/09 Schedule
  29. http://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/article/59727
  30. http://news.moneycentral.msn.com/ticker/article.aspx?Feed=AP&Date=20081120&ID=9395951&Symbol=VNO

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