MLB Network

MLB Network
MLB Network Logo.png
Logo for the MLB Network
Launched January 1, 2009
Owned by Major League Baseball (67%)
DirecTV (16.67%)
Comcast (5.44%)
Time Warner Cable (5.44%)
Cox Communications (5.44%)[1]
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
720p (HDTV)
Slogan "Our National Pastime All The Time" (current)
"Get Caught Looking" (current)
"Our National Pastime Goes Full Time". (original)
Country United States
Language English
Broadcast area United States
Headquarters One MLB Network Plaza
Secaucus, New Jersey
Sister channel(s) MLB Network Radio
Website MLBNetwork.com
Availability
Satellite
DirecTV (US) 213 (SD/HD)
DirecTV (Latin America) 656
Dish Network 153 (SD/HD)
9434 (HD)
Sky Angel 325
Cable
Available on many cable systems Check MLBNetwork.com for availability
Verizon FiOS 86 (SD)
586 (HD)
Satellite radio
XM 89
Sirius 209
IPTV
AT&T U-verse 634 (SD)
1634 (HD)

MLB Network is an American television specialty channel dedicated to professional baseball. It is primarily owned by Major League Baseball.[2] Comcast, DirecTV, Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications have minority ownership of the new network, with MLB retaining a controlling two-thirds share.[3] The channel's headquarters and studios are located in the Secaucus, New Jersey[4] facility which formerly housed MSNBC's studios.Tony Petitti, former executive producer of CBS Sports, was named the network's first president.

Contents

History

Major League Baseball became the fourth major North American professional sports league to launch its own 24-hour cable network. NBA TV dates back to 1999, the NHL Network to 2001 (though not in the United States until 2007), and the NFL Network to 2003. However, MLB Network is carried in the most households of these four networks, as it is available on all of the top ten video operators in the United States.

MLB 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. The channel fully launched at 6 PM EST with the premiere of Hot Stove.

Carriage

The network has signed contracts with numerous cable and satellite carriers, including DirecTV, Dish Network, Verizon FiOS, Cablevision, Comcast, Cox Communications, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, and AT&T Uverse. In a deal that was pioneered 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.

Satellite radio

On March 26, 2010, it was announced that satellite radio station MLB Home Plate will be rebranded to MLB Network Radio which will simulcast some MLB Network programs such as MLB Tonight and Hot Stove. The switchover began on April 4, the first day of the 2010 MLB season. [5]

Canadian carriage

To date, no announcements have been made about MLB Network availability 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 emphasized prior to the channel's launch that a deal was not imminent.[6]

In August 2008, Rogers secured Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approval for a Canadian digital channel tentatively called "Baseball TV",[7] 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, along the lines of NBA TV Canada, which is owned by the parent company of the Toronto Raptors but uses much of the content of the league's U.S. channel NBA TV. It appears Rogers would prefer this approach.[8] 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; this was the approach taken with NFL Network.

MLB Network HD

MLB Network HD is a 720p high definition simulcast of MLB Network, which launched simultaneously to the regular channel. After much discussion, MLB Network decided to use the 720p format instead of 1080-line-interlace because it believes 720p shows the motion of baseball more accurately and will degrade less when recompressed by cable operators to save bandwidth. As Mark Haden (VP of engineering and IT of MLB Network) says: “That's our best shot of maintaining quality to viewers.”[9] All studio programs and original shows are shot in HD, as well as all self produced games such as those of the 2009 World Baseball Classic and Thursday Night Baseball, as well as simulcasted locally produced games on Saturday Night Baseball. The network is also currently remastering 30 World Series Films in high definition. [10] Also during MLB Tonight the channel shows exclusive live HD look-ins to games in progress via its local channel. Programs not available in HD originally have unique stylized pillarboxes: brick walls reminiscent of an older baseball stadium, with the MLB Network logo in the middle. Beginning on March 27, 2009, pillarboxes with a more generic design were used with some programming: solid blue bars with the logo in the middle. The brick wall design pillarboxes continue to be used at times as well.

The 720p format is also used by affiliates of regional sports network Fox Sports Net HD, which holds the rights to local game coverage of several teams, Phillies broadcaster WPHL-TV, and WWOR-TV in Secaucus, New Jersey/New York, which broadcasts a limited schedule of Yankees games. MLB national broadcast partners Fox and ESPN also produce their programming in 720p.

MLB Network HD is available nationally on DirecTV [11] and Dish Network [12] and regionally on Verizon FiOS, [13] Cablevision, [14] Comcast, Cox Communications, [15] Time Warner Cable,[16] Bright House Networks, [17] and AT&T Uverse. [18]

On-air staff

Hosts

  • Greg Amsinger: (2009–present) Hot Stove and MLB Tonight. [19]
  • Bob Costas: (2009–present) Hot Stove, MLB Tonight, Studio 42 with Bob Costas and Thursday Night Baseball.[20]
  • Matt Vasgersian: (2009–present) Hot Stove, MLB Tonight and Thursday Night Baseball [21]
  • Matt Yallof (2009-present) The Rundown, MLB Tonight, Hot Stove
  • Chris Rose (2010-present) Hot Stove, MLB Tonight, Intentional Talk [22]
  • Paul Severino (2011-present) Hot Stove, MLB Tonight, Quick Pitch and Front Burner
  • Ahmed Fareed (2011-present) Hot Stove, MLB Tonight, Quick Pitch and Front Burner
  • Lisa Kerney (2011-present) Quick Pitch, The Rundown
  • Brian Kenny (2011-present) MLB Tonight, Quick Pitch, Hot Stove, and Front Burner, Clubhouse Confidential

Analysts

  • Larry Bowa (2011–present) Hot Stove and MLB Tonight
  • Eric Byrnes (2010–present) MLB Tonight
  • Sean Casey (2009–present) Hot Stove and MLB Tonight
  • Ron Gant (2011-present) MLB Tonight, Hot Stove'
  • John Hart: (2009–present) 30 Clubs in 30 Days; 30 Teams, 30 Report Cards; Hot Stove and MLB Tonight
  • Jim Kaat: (2009–present) Thursday Night Baseball
  • Al Leiter: (2009–present) Hot Stove, MLB Tonight and Thursday Night Baseball [23]
  • Joe Magrane: (2009–present) Hot Stove, MLB Tonight and Thursday Night Baseball [24]
  • Kevin Millar (2010–present) MLB Tonight, Intentional Talk [22]
  • Dan Plesac: (2009–present) Hot Stove, MLB Tonight and Thursday Night Baseball [25]
  • Harold Reynolds: (2009–present) Hot Stove, MLB Tonight and Thursday Night Baseball [23]
  • Billy Ripken: (2009–present) MLB Tonight [26]
  • John Smoltz (2010–present) Thursday Night Baseball and MLB Tonight
  • Dave Valle: (2009–present) MLB Tonight
  • Mitch Williams: (2009–present) The Pen, Thursday Night Baseball, Hot Stove and MLB Tonight [19]*

Reporters

  • Lisa Kerney: (2010–present)
  • Sam Ryan: (2011–present)
  • Matt Yallof: (2009–present) Quick Pitch [23], MLB Tonight (Sunday nights), The Rundown [22]

Insiders

Former

  • Barry Larkin: (2009–2011) Hot Stove and MLB Tonight (now with ESPN) [19]
  • Victor Rojas: (2009–2010) Hot Stove, MLB Tonight, Quick Pitch and Thursday Night Baseball [27] (now Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim TV play-by-play)
  • Tony Clark: (2009) MLB Tonight
  • Trenni Kusnierek: (2009–2010) Hot Stove and MLB Tonight [23]
  • Hazel Mae: (2009–2011) All Time Games, Hot Stove, MLB Tonight, Quick Pitch, and The Rundown [23] [22]

Programming

Live game coverage

Regular season

MLB Network airs several live games a week. All games are subject to local blackouts and therefore two games are offered each day.

  • Other night games: MLB Network airs games on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday nights, simulcast from one team's local rights holder. On Tuesday nights, MLB Network features doubleheader coverage, with an early East Coast game followed by a later West Coast one. [22]
  • MLB Matinee: MLB Network airs a series of weekday afternoon games throughout the regular season.[28] As with night games, these matinee games feature simulcasts of one team's local telecast.
  • Minor League Baseball: MLB Network will occasionally pick up Minor League Baseball games being broadcast by its cable TV partners. This has included Triple-A and Double-A games along with some Minor League's All-Star Games.

International

International live game coverage self-produced by MLB Network includes the World Baseball Classic and the Caribbean Series. [2]

Spring training

The channel also airs live and tape delayed Spring training games, simulcasted from one of the team's local TV rights holder's feed. These games are also subject to local blackouts.

Other games

The channel also carries live development league games, and occasionally live college and minor league games. In August 2009, they aired youth baseball championships, including the RBI World Series and the Cal Ripken World Series. It also airs some games of the Arizona Fall League including the championship.

Daily shows

An MLB Network "ballpark cam" at Yankee Stadium.
  • MLB Tonight: The signature show of MLB Network, which debuted at the start of 2009 Spring Training in a 60-minute format; as of 2011, the show airs seven days a week during the regular season. The show has updates, highlights, news, and analysis. The original plan was also to feature exclusive live look-ins using their own permanent HD cameras with shots not available on any of the channels covering the game; however, MLBN has decided to use "ballpark cam" only before and after games. Live cut-ins simulcast from the station covering the game.[21] In 2011, MLB Tonight won a Sports Emmy Award for Outstanding Studio Show - Daily.
  • Hot Stove: During the offseason, Hot Stove is the signature program on MLB Network, airing at 7:00 PM EST Monday through Friday. It features news reports and analysis of all offseason moves as teams prepare for the upcoming season.[21] It gets its name from the baseball term Hot stove league.
  • Quick Pitch: A 60-minute daily fast-paced show of highlights from that day's games. Premiered April 12. [29] Currently, it airs live at the conclusion of MLB Tonight or the last live game of the night and then repeats throughout the overnight and morning hours until 1 P.M. ET. Airs seven days a week during the MLB regular season.
  • World Baseball Classic Tonight: A show similar to MLB Tonight, World Baseball Classic Tonight featured highlights, analysis and special reports on the tournament.[30]
  • The Rundown: A two-hour show that premiered in 2011, hosted by Hazel Mae and Matt Yallof, provides looks at day games in progress, batting practice, recaps of the previous day's action and previews of the upcoming contests. [22]
  • Intentional Talk: Another new show for 2011, features a casual conversation between Chris Rose and Kevin Millar about the events of the day. Hazel Mae acts as host between segments.[22]

Other

  • All Time Games: Classic baseball games, shown in their original televised form. The premiere episode on January 1 was a kinescope of NBC's coverage of 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, who caught the game, by Bob Costas, and included all original Gillette advertisements from the NBC coverage. [31]
  • 30 Clubs in 30 Days: In February, the network embarked on a month-long tour of spring training camps with John Hart as host, coming from a different facility each day. Season 2 premiered on March 3, 2010.
  • 30 Clubs, 30 Report Cards: A sequel to 30 Teams in 30 Days, in July, host John Hart looks back at predictions made during the spring and grades each team's performance thus far through the season.
  • 30 Clubs, 30 Recaps: The offseason version of the above which airs during Hot Stove, premiered December 7, 2009, recaps each team's season and looks ahead to next season.
  • 30 Games, 30 Clubs, 30 Days: In 2010 and 2011, MLB Network aired 30 live regular season games, featuring all 30 teams, during the month of April.
  • Diamond Demos: An instructional show featuring an expert in a certain aspect of baseball. Episodes have included infielding with Ozzie Smith, catching with Joe Girardi, outfielding with Torii Hunter, pitching with Jeff Brantley, and coaching with Buck Showalter. Premiered April 6. [32]
  • October Classics is re-airings of World Series in their entirety. Each week a different series has been featured.
  • Prime 9: A series devoted to the topic of the nine greatest in anything involved with baseball.
  • Studio 42 with Bob Costas is an interview show with prominent baseball figures. The premiere episode on February 5 was with Joe Torre about his new tell-all book The Yankee Years, which has been regarded as controversial among Yankees players, especially Alex Rodriguez. [20][33] Another famous episode featured an interview with Frick Award winning announcer Ernie Harwell, his last television appearance before his death six months later.
  • Front Burner: The channel's insiders have a round table discussion about the off-season, and take questions and comments from viewers via phone calls, emails, Facebook and Twitter.

Documentaries

  • Baseball's Seasons: A documentary series set against the events of a certain baseball season.
  • Inside the Moments: A series premiering January 2 that features memorable moments and the stories behind them. The first five episodes are: "Aura of the Home Run", "Icons of the Game", "Unforgettable Feats", "Magic on the Mound" and "Fall Classic Finales". This show was originally produced by ESPN during the 2002 season as part of a promotion sponsored by MasterCard in which fans voted to determine the best moment in MLB history.
  • Pride and Perseverance: The Story of the Negro Leagues: A one-hour special narrated by Hall of Famer Dave Winfield on the history of Negro League Baseball prior to Jackie Robinson's debut on April 15, 1947.
  • Rising Sons: A documentary on how Japanese players have adjusted to life in America.
  • We Are Young, a story about Dmitri Young, Delmon Young, and their father, Larry Young.
  • Josh Hamilton: Resurrecting the Dream: chronicles the life of Josh Hamilton.
  • The Pen: followed the bullpen of the 2009 Philadelphia Phillies.
  • The Club: followed the 2010 Chicago White Sox.

Repeats

  • Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns: The Emmy Award-winning documentary mini-series, which originally aired on PBS in 1994, was aired on MLB Network in 2009.
  • Cathedrals of the Game: takes viewers on tours of MLB stadiums and explores the history of the team and city (originally produced by iNHD in 2005).

Studios

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 take place and QuickPitch is presented, along with interview programs where an audience is needed for atmosphere. Studio 42 is also the home of the early rounds of the Major League Baseball Draft. The studio includes seating for over 125 people, along with elements such as a functioning manual scoreboard and a standings wall for each league and division.

The network had planned to launch permanent studios from a new tower in Manhattan's Harlem neighborhood by 2011. [34] However due to the 2008 financial crisis, the building project was scaled back and later canceled in late November 2008.

References

  1. ^ MLB Owners Approve Plans For Extra Innings, MLB Network
  2. ^ a b Fisher, Eric; Ourand, John (2008-03-31). "Fitting the pieces of the MLB Network". Sports Business Journal. http://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/article/58507. Retrieved 2008-04-15. 
  3. ^ John Helyar (2007-12-27). "In stare-down with Big Cable over Pats-Giants, the NFL blinked". ESPN.com. http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/columns/story?id=3169890&lpos=spotlight&lid=tab1pos1. Retrieved 2007-12-27. 
  4. ^ MLB Network Headquarters, 40°47′05″N 74°04′19″W / 40.78475°N 74.07188°W / 40.78475; -74.07188
  5. ^ MLB Rebrands XM Radio Channel to MLB Network Radio - Extending television brand, programs to satellite radio service Broadcasting & Cable March 26, 2010
  6. ^ Marcus DiNitto, MLB Network: What you will see on Jan. 1, Sporting News, November 22, 2008
  7. ^ Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2008-171
  8. ^ William Houston, "Baseball TV may launch this year", The Globe and Mail, January 7, 2009
  9. ^ MLB Steps Up to the Plate Broadcasting & Cable December 17, 2008
  10. ^ Multichannel News 12/27/08 MLB Network Transferring 30 World Series Films to HD Format
  11. ^ DirecTV channel changes
  12. ^ Dish Network Hits It Out of the Park With MLB Network National Newswire Service September 1, 2011
  13. ^ MLB Network secures agreement with Verizon FiOS TV
  14. ^ Cablevision Sends MLB Network Up in Standard, HD Formats Multichannel News December 30, 2008
  15. ^ Cox San Diego lineup
  16. ^ Time Warner Cable - Channel Finder
  17. ^ Brighthouse Network Tampa Bay channel lineup
  18. ^ MLB Network Launches on AT&T U-verse TV AT&T Press Release March 11, 2011
  19. ^ a b c d e f MLB Network Seven Days to Go
  20. ^ a b Costas Joins MLB Network's Team Multichannel News February 3, 2009
  21. ^ a b c "MLB Network signs Vasgersian". MLB.com. 2008-11-05. http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article_entertainment.jsp?ymd=20081105&content_id=3665541&vkey=entertainment&fext=.jsp. Retrieved 2008-11-08. 
  22. ^ a b c d e f g MLB Network: Ready For Opening Day With New Games Packages, More Subs, Advertisers Multichannel News March 28, 2011
  23. ^ a b c d e "MLB Network signs Reynolds and Leiter". MLB.com. 2008-11-12. http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20081112&content_id=3676310&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb. Retrieved 2008-11-12. 
  24. ^ tampabay.com Magrane leaving TV booth for MLB Network
  25. ^ Dan Plesac joins MLB Network yardbarker.com December 6, 2008
  26. ^ MLB Network adds Jim Kaat and Billy Ripken to on-air talent lineup
  27. ^ "MLB Network adds Victor Rojas to on-air talent lineup". MLB.com. 2008-12-10. http://mlb.mlb.com/news/press_releases/press_release.jsp?ymd=20081210&content_id=3711248&vkey=pr_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb. Retrieved 2008-12-14. 
  28. ^ MLB Network announces first live game schedule for 2010 MLB Regular Season
  29. ^ MLB Network schedule April 13, 2009
  30. ^ MLB Network to televise 2009 World Baseball Classic
  31. ^ MLB Network 1/1/09 Schedule
  32. ^ MLBNetwork schedule April 6, 2009
  33. ^ Mcall.com Joe Torre defends book at first signing session in New York
  34. ^ MLB Network’s Harlem plans an unnecessary distraction Sports Business Journal August 4, 2008



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