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MLB Network is an American television specialty channel dedicated to professional baseball. It is primarily owned by Major League Baseball.[1] Comcast, DirecTV, Time Warner Cable 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[3] facility which formerly housed MSNBC's studios. By 2015, revenue from cable subscriber fees and advertising is projected to exceed $210 million, with a net value over $1 billion.[1] Tony Petitti, former executive producer of CBS Sports, was named the network's first president.

HistoryEdit

Despite pioneering league-owned programming with the short lived over-the-air The Baseball Network, Major League Baseball became the fourth major North American professional sports league to launch its own 24-hour channel. 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, largely because of the financial participation of the cable systems.

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.

CarriageEdit

The network has signed contracts with 36 cable and satellite carriers. 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. Two major television providers that are not currently carrying the channel are AT&T U-Verse and Dish Network, leaving DirecTV with satellite exclusivity. Dish Network has been in an ongoing carriage dispute about MLB Extra Innings since the end of the 2006 season. [4]

Satellite radioEdit

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. The switchover began on April 4, the first day of the 2010 MLB season. [5]

Canadian carriageEdit

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 HDEdit

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. MLB national broadcast partners Fox HD and ESPN HD are also in 720p.

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

On-air staffEdit

HostsEdit

AnalystsEdit

ReportersEdit

InsidersEdit

FormerEdit

ProgrammingEdit

Live game coverageEdit

Regular seasonEdit

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

  • Weeknight games: MLB Network airs games on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday nights, simulcast from one team's local rights holder.
  • MLB Matinee: Beginning in 2010 MLB Network began airing a series of weekday afternoon games throughout the regular season.[25] As with week night games, these matinee games feature simulcasts of one team's local telecast.

InternationalEdit

International live game coverage self-produced by MLB Network includes the World Baseball Classic and the Caribbean Series. [1]

Spring trainingEdit

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 gamesEdit

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 showsEdit

  • MLB Tonight: The signature show of MLB Network, which debuted at the start of 2009 Spring Training in a 60-minute format; since the regular season began on April 5, 2009, it has aired Monday through Saturday from 6 pm Eastern until the final MLB game of the night is over. 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.[19]
  • 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.[19] 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. [26] Currently, it debuts at 1 a.m. ET overnights, airing again at 2 a.m. and then in a continuous loop from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.
  • World Baseball Classic Tonight: A show similar to MLB Tonight, World Baseball Classic Tonight featured highlights, analysis and special reports on the tournament.[27]

OtherEdit

  • 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. [28]
  • 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, 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. [29]
  • 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. [18][30] Another famous episode featured an interview with 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. Was originally a separate hour long show but is now a segment on Hot Stove on Wednesdays.

DocumentariesEdit

  • 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, Template:Mlby.
  • 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: follows the 2010 Chicago White Sox.

RepeatsEdit

  • 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).

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 take place. The studio includes seating for over 125 people, and a real-time out of town scoreboard based on those similar to PNC Park, Citizens Bank Park and Citi Field.

The network had planned to launch permanent studios from a new tower in Manhattan's Harlem neighborhood by 2011. [31] However due to the 2008 financial crisis, the building project was scaled back and later canceled in late November 2008.


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