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Rogers Applies to Bring MLB Network to Canada Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 20 June 2012 13:13
MLB Network
MLB Network could (finally) be
coming to Canada

Major League Baseball’s league-owned all-baseball channel MLB Network launched in 2009, and to date, it sees the largest distribution base of any of the other league networks. But, as of today, MLB Network is not seen in Canada, a case of being caught up in the approval process of the Canadian Television-radio Commission.

As early as 2009, Rogers Cable, who owns the Toronto Blue Jays, was trying to get MLB Network broadcasted in Canada (see MLB Network Reportedly Coming to Canada as "Baseball TV"). Rogers had let the license to pursue MLB Network expire last year.

But, according to a report today in The Globe and Mail, Rogers has begun actively pursuing  the league-owned network, again.

"MLB Network's market research in the U.S. and Canada indicates that Major League Baseball fans have a considerable demand for more information and insight about the sport of baseball," the network wrote in a letter supporting Rogers' application to the CRTC.

"MLB International believes that MLB Network should be added .... in doing so, the Commission will ensure that Canadian consumers are able to access a non-Canadian service that will provide unique programming content in a genre that does not currently exist in Canada."

[…]

Rogers argues in its application that the pay service would be complementary to existing coverage provided by its own spots channel, as well as those operate by RDS and TSN.

 "Of the 2,430 live regular-season games in Major League Baseball, MLB Network only features up to 150," the application states. "In other words, the percentage of live games offered on MLB Network is minimal compared to the number of live games that are available through Canadian specialty services like Rogers' Sportsnet. Any overlap in programming is insignificant to consumers today."

According to the report, the application for MLB Network in Canada is open for comment until mid-July.

MLB Network would not be the first sports channel from the United States to gain access into Canada. The CRTC has previously authorized the NFL Network, the Golf Channel and Speed for Canadian distribution.


Maury BrownMaury 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 writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. He 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 (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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Yu Darvish Interview Set to Air Tonight on MLB Network Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 11 May 2012 15:03

Yu Darvish will have his first US interview tonight on MLB Network

Maybe the excitement will abate at some point, but not for now. Baseball fans of every stripe are watching closely to see how Japanese pitching sensation Yu Darvish is transitioning to MLB with the Rangers.

Darvish talks with MLB Network's Tom Verducci about playing baseball in the United States today in an exclusive interview on MLB Tonight at 6:00 p.m. ET. In his first one-on-one TV interview with a national U.S. network this season, Darvish talks about the adjustment of playing in Major League Baseball compared with playing in his native Japan. Darvish also discusses his ability to throw all of his pitches left-handed, the difference of the feel of the ball in the U.S., his relationship with teammate Josh Hamilton, and his taste for American food.

Highlights from the interview that was taped Wednesday at Baltimore’s Oriole Park at Camden Yards are available below via MLB Network. Following MLB Tonight, the interview will be available for viewing at www.MLBNetwork.com.

Yu Darvish on how the attention he receives in the United States compares to the attention he received in Japan:

“I think in Japan, all of the attention that I received over there, also being Japanese, I understood it.  It was natural.  But over here, it’s a different culture, different country.  They’re saying ‘Yu Darvish.’  The way they ask for autographs, the way they cheer my name like, ‘Yuuu,’ those are a little bit different, but I’m thankful for those and I enjoy it.”

Darvish on the hitters in MLB:

“The power is a little bit different.  More power hitters over here, whereas in Japan, there are more contact hitters.  Over there, you might have players who will see a lot of pitches and put the ball in play.  Whereas over here, I have to be careful of not making too many mistakes.  Everyone has the strength to hit for power.”

Darvish on his walk rate and strikeout rate being higher in the U.S. than in Japan:

“The higher rate of walks [means] I’m still not completely adapted to this baseball here.  I think the higher rate of strikeouts, maybe the hitters over here, they’re not used to or they haven’t seen a pitcher like me where I have several secondary pitches and still can throw in the mid-90’s.  On top of that, they haven’t seen me at all.  It’s the first time around.  So I think all of that [combined] maybe is resulting in a higher strikeout rate.”

Darvish on Josh Hamilton:

“Just one word: amazing.  Actually being there and watching [his four-home run game], I don’t think I’ve ever seen a three-home run game.  And the fact that he’s such a nice person, a great teammate, he’s one of the many guys who actually helped me out, I was more happy to see him accomplish that.  Since he’s such a nice guy and we get along very well, I believe he’s going to hit five home runs for me next time I pitch.”
Source: MLB Network


Maury BrownMaury 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 writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He 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 (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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Bob Costas and Jim Kaat Talk Braun, Phillies, Red Sox, Nationals, MLB Network Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 11 April 2012 00:18

MLB NetworkYou know the season is getting fully underway when the annual conference calls with the various national broadcast teams occur. For MLB Network, this year takes on extra significance with the added playoff round being added into the mix.

On Tuesday, MLB Network host Bob Costas, analyst Jim Kaat and president and CEO Tony Petitti spoke on a media conference call leading up to the premiere of MLB Network Showcase this Thursday, April 12 with the Miami Marlins visiting the Philadelphia Phillies at 7:00 p.m. ET. The game marks the first time in 2012 that Costas and Kaat will call an MLB game and the start of the fourth season that Costas and Kaat have called games together for MLB Network.

Here’s the transcript of that call.

Tony Petitti on the next steps for MLB Network:

“I can’t say whether it will be the new Wild Card [games], but I think the right words are ‘exclusive content.’ We’ve talked about the next step for us being having some exclusive baseball content where we really are the place to go for that particular game, whether it’s Postseason or regular season. I think that’s the next step, whether that will happen in the short run or happen over time as [Major League Baseball] goes through the contract negotiation process, whenever they start that. I think what we’ve done is best position ourselves to have a seat at that table, that was our goal over the last four years and I think we’ve done a really good job of that and I think [Major League Baseball] feels the same way. We’re hoping that that next step, whatever it might be, will happen shortly.”

Bob Costas on whether the five-game suspension of Ozzie Guillen by the Miami Marlins is justified:

“I think the Marlins had to react. They had to react forcefully without any ambiguity. Their original statement had no wiggle room – ‘There’s no reason to respect or admire Castro…’ – this was even before they made the decision about the suspension. I think most people will view that as fair and appropriate and, if anything, I think there’s some people who probably would’ve thought that the suspension would last longer than that, but five games seems equitable to me. It seems reasonable to me. I think there’s also an implication here that regardless of Ozzie’s shoot-from-the-hip history, he better keep it holstered on anything that goes outside baseball. People will just say ‘Hey that’s Ozzie,” if he’s talking about something that happened on the ball field, or he gets mad at one of his players, or he gets mad at someone on the opposition and he speaks colorfully about that, fine. But just keep it between the lines. The other stuff, I don’t think he has very much wiggle room anymore. [Chicago White Sox owner] Jerry Reinsdorf was pretty indulgent through the years in Chicago, but Ozzie’s painted himself into a corner now.”

Costas on whether Ryan Braun can recover his reputation completely and the position MLB is in having its MVP calling into question its drug testing program:

“First of all, completely, there is always going to be somebody, even if [Braun] is a model citizen and a model ballplayer for the next 10, 15 years, there’s always going to be somebody who’s going to recall this and make it a defining issue, but can he regain his standing nearly completely? Yeah, if everything goes well from this point on. He’s still a relatively young player, he’s a very likeable guy, and I think in his defense, he was fine in his defense – and I said this on the air – until he threw the [drug] tester under the bus. That made no sense. There’s no plausible reason to believe that his sample was tampered with. It was triple-sealed. How in the world would A) someone have the motive to do it and risk being charged with a felony; B) skillfully break the triple seal and then reseal it three times; and then C) – and maybe this should be ‘A,’ – be such a skillful rogue chemist that he spiked both the ‘A’ and the ‘B’ sample identically? What Ryan could’ve said was, perhaps plausibly, ‘I have no idea how this test turned out the way it did. I tested negative many, many times before. As soon as I heard about it, I took another test. That came up negative. I never knowingly ingested anything. I have no idea how this happened, it’s an aberrant result.’ If he’d left it at that, given how articulate he is, how likeable he is, I think that would’ve been fine. When he went a step further with these kind of murky accusations, ‘We found out stuff about the tester’ and that sort of thing, I think that undermined his credibility. I don’t think many people believe just because Ryan Braun got off in this case on a technicality, that that calls into question the validity of MLB’s program and I think MLB themselves made that clear immediately and emphatically.”

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How Long Before Canada Gets MLB Network? Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 23 March 2012 12:54

MLB NetworkWhen MLB Network launched on New Year’s Day in 2009, it was heraled as a new day for baseball fans that wanted to get their fix of the National Pastime 24/7/365. Now into its fourth year, MLB Network is available to 68 million cable, telco TV and satellite homes throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

The question is, when will Canada be getting the network?

Showrtly after MLB Network launched in 2009, word was that it was coming to Canada under the name of “Baseball TV” (see MLB Network Reportedly Coming to Canada as "Baseball TV")

At the time, the Globe and Mail reported, “Rogers would take programming from MLB Network, add Canadian content, and make the channel, titled Baseball TV, available to distributors….. Rogers Cable would carry it. And so, probably, would other companies. A spokesperson for Bell TV said the satellite company would ‘look at it very seriously.’"

That never transpired. To date, no word has come as to whether MLB Network (or under a different branding in Canada) is on the cusp. In fact, as of publication, there is no word as to whether the season opener next week in Japan between the A’s and Mariners will be available in Canada (NOTE: MLB is working to get details back to The Biz of Baseball on the season opener. Look for an update as they become available).

Fans to the north of the US can hope that MLB Network is coming to them… someday. When that will be is the question not yet answered.


Maury BrownMaury 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 writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He 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 (select his name in the dropdown provided).

 
Time Warner Cable Removes Unwarranted Blackouts for Pirates, Indians, and Tigers Fans Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 05 August 2011 08:37

The mergers of several Time Warner Cable operators in Ohio into two separate entities caused a mid-season nightmare for fans with MLB Extra Innings this past week (see Ohio Time Warner Cable Subs Get Caught in MLB Blackout Crossfire Over Pirates, Indians, Tigers Games). That issue has now been fully resolved.

According to an executive at Major League Baseball, TWC has reverted both to the prior configurations that league had at the beginning of the season.  The teams adversely affected were the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cleveland Indians, and Detroit Tigers.

(SEE MLB’S TELEVISION BLACKOUT MAP)

According to the league, when the mergers of systems took place, TWC applied blackouts incorrectly. Thousands of subscribers to the out-of-market package were impacted by the blackouts.

Could such a thing happen again? It’s possible. As mergers and acquisitions of systems take place, the configurations of the blackout policy could be impacted.

Asked if there were a chance that the league as a whole would look into the blackout policy, the league said that they continue to look at it as it is the number one customer service complaint. Issues around pulling cable providers in or out of blackouts are a consideration as some have pushed back. Owners, of course, are looking to retain as much territory as possible as it adds revenues to the bottom line.


Maury BrownMaury 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, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He 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 (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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Issue Resolved, Time Warner Cable Subs Should Have Blackouts Lifted for Pirates, Indians Games Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 03 August 2011 12:00

A meeting between the top brass at Time Warner Cable and Major League Baseball yesterday appears to have addressed a thorny issue where after more than half the season played, NE Ohio subscribers were suddenly blacked out from Pirates and Indians games on MLB Extra Innings (see Ohio Time Warner Cable Subs Get Caught in MLB Blackout Crossfire Over Pirates, Indians, Tigers Games). A league executive said that the blackouts should be lifted today. Time Warner Cable implemented the blackouts after having three operators in the area merge into one.

While the issue of Pirates and Indians are resolved, a separate issue with TWC in the Columbus, Ohio area still has Detroit Tigers fans being blacked out. The league is scrambling to get that mid-season blackout issue resolved, hopefully as early as today, although sources at the league could not confirm whether that would occur.

LOOK FOR UPDATES AS THEY BECOME AVAILABLE


Maury BrownMaury 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, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He 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 (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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Ohio Time Warner Cable Subs Get Caught in MLB Blackout Crossfire Over Pirates, Indians, Tigers Games Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 01 August 2011 23:04

UPDATE #2: Reports now are that Tigers games are being blacked out, and area is larger than just NE Ohio

UPDATE: Reports are now that not only are the Pirates blacked out mid-season due to the Time Warner Cable merger, but so are the Indians in NE Ohio.


The mergers of three Time Warner Cable outlets into a single entity has created an unintended blackout headache mid-season for fans in Ohio trying to catching Pittsburgh Pirates, and Cleveland Indians games, while a TWC Columbus system and its newly added served areas are blacking out the Detriot Tigers According to customers, calls to TWC around game time had a recorded message saying, "Tonight’s Pittsburgh Pirates game on the MLB Extra Innings package has been blacked out.  This is not a Time Warner decision, but a decision made by Major League Baseball."

(SEE THE MLB BLACKOUT MAP)

A league executive said that MLB is aware of both situations and have been working on it already, but disputes that it is a league issue saying that Time Warner Cable is the reason for the blackout that should not be. A 3:30pm ET call between TWC and MLB occurred today in an effort to resolve the issue.

“It’s a tough situation brought on by the integration of three TWC headends into one,” said the executive. “This always raises complications and it is not done at our direction but certainly creates problems.

“Why, after they’d been informed/alerted as to the blackout problems such integration would cause, they continued to make the decision anyway and deprive their subscribers of games they’d otherwise been entitled to? Their operational economies of scale clearly don’t consider the impact of blackouts; it’s not MLB greed or policy.”

The league said it hopes to have the issue resolved soon. We hope to update fans as soon as word arises.


Maury BrownMaury 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, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He 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 (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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Results of 2011 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot on MLB Network, MLB.com Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 05 January 2011 08:47

MLB NetworkThe results of the 2011 National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot will be announced on MLB Network and simulcast on MLB.com on Wednesday, January 5 at 2:00 p.m. ET as part of a 90-minute announcement show beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET. Featuring National Baseball Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson, coverage will feature interviews with the newest inductees and be anchored by Greg Amsinger and Matt Vasgersian, with analysis from MLB Network’s Bob Costas, Hall of Fame award-winning baseball writer Peter Gammons, Harold Reynolds and Hall of Fame voters Tom Verducci and Jon Heyman. Costas, Gammons, Reynolds, Vasgersian, Verducci and Heyman will then recap the 2011 Hall of Fame ballot results during the hour-long show Class of 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET and look ahead to the 2011 induction ceremony on July 24 on MLB Network.

The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) Hall of Fame ballot features 33 players, including 14 holdovers from previous elections, including Bert Blyleven, Roberto Alomar, Jack Morris and Barry Larkin, and 19 newcomers. Longtime MLB executive Pat Gillick, who built three World Series championship teams, has already been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Expansion Era Committee, while Dave Van Horne, who has spent the last 42 seasons calling play-by-play for the Montreal Expos and the Florida Marlins, was selected as the 2011 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award presented annually for excellence in baseball broadcasting. Philadelphia journalist Bill Conlin was elected the 2011 winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award presented annually to a sportswriter for "meritorious contributions to baseball writing.”

The 2011 election marks the 68th Hall of Fame election held by the BBWAA. Any candidate receiving votes on 75 percent of the ballots will earn election to the Hall of Fame. Eligible voters are members of the BBWAA with at least ten years of service and who remain in good standing. Candidates who receive between 5 and 74.9 percent of the vote will return to the BBWAA ballot in 2012 unless they have exhausted their 15-year eligibility window. Candidates who receive fewer than 5 percent of the vote will be no longer eligible for BBWAA Hall of Fame elections.

Source: MLB Network


Maury BrownMaury 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, as well as a contributor to FanGraphs and Forbes SportsMoney. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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MLB Network to Air Historic Game 7 of 1960 World Series on Dec 15 Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 09 December 2010 15:24

Game 7 1960 World SeriesOnce thought to be lost forever, the complete original television broadcast of the 1960 World Series Game 7 – regarded by many as the greatest baseball game ever played - will be telecast on MLB Network on December 15 at 8:00 p.m. ET, the first time it will be seen on television since it was originally played more than 50 years ago. The black-and-white kinescope of the game film was discovered earlier this year at the home of the late Bing Crosby, who was a part owner of the Pirates at the time.

Presented exclusively and with limited commercial interruption by Chevrolet, MLB Network Special Presentation: 1960 World Series Game 7 will include exclusive interviews by MLB Network’s Bob Costas with former members of the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates, including Dick Groat and Bill Virdon, as well as former New York Yankee and 1960 World Series MVP Bobby Richardson, Vera Clemente, wife of the late Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente, and actor and Pittsburgh native Michael Keaton. Other former Pirates players and former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Franco Harris are featured throughout the program. The interviews were recorded in front of a live audience of more than 1,000 at the historic Byham Theater in Pittsburgh on November 13, 2010, where the film of Game 7 was screened. Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski, who was unable to attend the event at the Byham Theater due to illness, was interviewed on December 2, 2010 at the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum at the History Center in Pittsburgh. A preview of the program can be viewed here.

The special presentation will include the original television broadcast of Game 7 in its entirety, interspersed with reactions by Mazeroski, Groat, Virdon and Richardson to key plays in the game, including Mazeroski’s dramatic game-ending home run for the Pirates, a bad hop on a ground ball that hit Yankees infielder Tony Kubek in the throat, a key play at first base by Yankees legend Mickey Mantle and a critical three-run home run in the eighth inning by Pirates catcher Hal Smith, who received a rousing standing ovation 50 years later from the audience at the Byham Theater.

With Hall of Fame award-winning announcers Mel Allen and Bob Prince alternating play by play of the game every half-inning, the program also includes the four-minute-long postgame show, hosted by Prince. Prior to the screening and telecast, MLB Network worked with Technicolor to restore the 50 year-old game footage, enhancing the audio and picture quality. The game film is a sign of its time with limited on-screen graphics and no instant replay.

Prior to the program, MLB Network Remembers with Bob Costas: Bing and Baseball will air at 7:30 p.m. ET as an introduction into the great entertainer’s role in baseball, including interviews with Crosby’s widow Kathryn, his son Nathaniel, Michael Keaton, Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner and Robert Bader, Vice President of Marketing and Production for Bing Crosby Enterprises. Featured in the program is footage of Crosby performing “White Christmas,” whose version of the song is the number-one selling record of all time, as well as clips from the short film Road to Home, starring Crosby’s friend and one of the most recognizable entertainers in the world, Bob Hope.

Highlights from MLB Network Special Presentation: 1960 World Series Game 7 include:

Bill Mazeroski on the game’s score going into the third inning:

“We were up 4-nothing, 4-nothing it felt pretty good.  But by a long shot it didn’t feel like we won this game yet.  There was still a lot of game left to play and … you’re never comfortable with any lead.  I don’t care if it’s a 15-run lead, [I’m] never comfortable with that many innings to go.”

Mazeroski on the game’s ninth inning:

“I was just sitting there and thinking about how in the world we’re going to beat these guys and what’s gonna happen here and somebody yelled, “You’re up.” I forgot I was up and somebody yelled “You’re up,” and that’s when I went and got my helmet and went up and hit.

Mazeroski on his game-ending home run:

“When I hit it, I didn’t know for sure if it was going out.  … You know, it’s 410-feet out there. I hit it good and I knew when I hit it that Yogi wasn’t going to catch it. But I didn’t know if it was going out or not. I heard the noise, the people yelling. I looked down the left field line, the umpire is giving it this shot and I hit second and - I don’t think I touched first or touched the ground the rest of the way home. I just floated home. All I could think about was ‘We beat the Yankees. We beat the great Yankees.’”

Hal Smith on his three-run home run:

“I really didn’t think about it a lot. … I really didn’t know what happened until I rounded second base.  When I went around second base and I looked up in the stands and the people were all in on the dugouts, I thought, ‘What the heck have I done?’  And I get [to] home and Groat and Clemente both lift me up in the air and I was absolutely overwhelmed. … I thought that no matter what happened, I had really helped in a World Series and that had been my lifelong dream.”

Dick Groat on missing a double play off a single by Mickey Mantle:

“Believe it or not, 50 years later, I should have knocked the ball down and made a play.  It’s one of the plays that’s haunted me for 50 years that I did not knock the ball down.”

Bill Virdon and Dick Groat on the 1960 Pirates’ season:

Virdon: “We came from behind in the eighth and the ninth inning. I mean we never gave up and after this happens several times, you just keep thinking it’s going to happen.  And it did.”

Groat: “That was just typical of our whole 1960 year.  That’s the way our year went, everything went our way. … There’s no question the Yankee organization was the finest organization in all of baseball.  They just dominated the American League and even in Spring Training when we’d play another American League team, they were going to Spring Training to see who was going to finish 2nd.  Cause they just conceded the Yankees were stronger.  And to beat the Yankees makes it something special.  There’s a guy standing out there that made a great catch, he knows what it’s like to win a special game.  Am I right Franco? … When you beat the best, it’s something special, and again, this was, as Bill Mazeroski and Bill Virdon and I have said numerous times when we’ve been together, the 1960 Pirates were a team of destiny. Everything seemed to fall in place for us, we were just supposed to win. And ironically, watching the films of this game [and] we’ve seen the earlier highlights, I was never conscious all those years playing there how awful that infield looked. But it sure paid off, didn’t it?”

Dick Groat on the 1960 Pirates team:

“We’ve been together three or four times this summer and it’s like we’ve never been apart. … Having gone through the pennant race in ‘58 and then again in ‘60, you develop bonds and the closeness and the friendship that never goes away the rest of our lives. Thank God I played with all these guys, they were really special.”

Vera Clemente on her late husband:

“I always remember - I want to tell the fans here – that he used to say he loved his fans so much. He said ‘If someday the Pirates decide to trade me, I will quit because I will not play with [any] other team, only with the Pirates.’  He loved this city so much.”

Michael Keaton on Bill Mazeroski as his idol:

“I played in leagues until I was in my 40’s - various baseball and basketball and softball leagues – and there may have been a couple of times where I wasn’t number 9, but I don’t remember. I [was] a guy in my 40’s and I’m still angry if I don’t get number 9.”

Source: MLB Network


Maury BrownMaury 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, as well as a contributor to FanGraphs and Forbes SportsMoney. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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1919 Chicago White Sox Featured in MLB Network's "Triumph & Tragedy" Saturday, November 13 Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 12 November 2010 08:45

1919 Black Sox

Of all the seminal moments in Major League Baseball history, the 1919 Black Sox scandal is likely the greatest. If not for the scandal, there would be no commissioner; Pete Rose would likely be in the Hall of Fame, and; discussions around whether an MLB club should be in Las Vegas might have one less distraction.

The fixing of the 1919 World Series is featured in the latest edition of Major League Baseball Productions’ Triumph and Tragedy: The 1919 Chicago White Sox, airing on MLB Network this Saturday, November 13 at 9:00 p.m. ET. The documentary recounts the events that led eight members of the White Sox - Eddie Cicotte, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, Buck Weaver, Arnold “Chick” Gandil, Oscar "Happy" Felsch, Fred McMullin, Charles "Swede" Risberg and Claude "Lefty" Williams – to become part of a gambling scheme in advance of the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds and turn what could have been a dynasty into one of the most infamous clubs in Major League Baseball history.

Beginning with the players' involvement in the fixing of the series and leading to their later expulsion from baseball, Triumph and Tragedy details the appointment of the first commissioner of Major League Baseball and the steps taken to preserve the game, and role of Babe Ruth in ushering an new era and reinvigorating the sport.

Using photos that have never before been seen on TV, MLB Productions also incorporated player recreation for the first time and gathered new interviews with historians, writers and authors Ken Burns, Frank DeFord, Dr. Susan Dellinger, Robert Lipsyte, Bill Madden, Bert Sugar and John Thorn. The show also features a reading of original MLB Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis's judgment against the "eight men out," read by MLB players Josh Hamilton, Mark Teixeira and Eric Chavez, journalists DeFord and Sugar, and MLB Network's Barry Larkin and Al Leiter. Triumph and Tragedy is narrated by MLB Network's Matt Vasgersian.

Highlights of the episode include:

  • “One of the greatest tragedies in the history of the sport took place in that Fall Classic.” – Ken Burns
  • “Judge Landis’s announcement was succinct and forceful. Basically, it laid the ground rules for a new era in baseball.” – Bert Sugar
  • “People still say that if Babe Ruth did not come along at that time and started hitting home runs, that baseball might never have recovered its honor.” – Frank DeFord
  • “I couldn’t imagine entering a game where there were rumors of my teammates or players on the other team fixing a game. I think it’s great what Judge Landis did so many years ago because this game is played for the fans. If we don’t have integrity, if those fans don’t know that were playing with 100 percent to win every single game, then they’re not going to show up anymore and we don’t have a game.” – Mark Teixeira
  • “The "Black Sox" scandal in its way strengthened baseball. The idea that baseball can go through a crisis, can clean itself up, could come out strong and seemingly pure at the other end, I think gave America the sense that this really was indeed our game.” – Robert Lipsyte

Maury BrownMaury 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, as well as a contributor to FanGraphs and Forbes SportsMoney. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Strasburg Debut on MLB Network Averages Over 960,000 Viewers Print
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Thursday, 10 June 2010 10:47

Stephen Strasburg

They weren’t the highest ratings ever, but given that it was the Washington Nationals and the Pittsburg Pirates on MLB Network, as opposed to ESPN, or FOX, the league-owned network has to be pleased.

The final Nielsen ratings numbers are in, and with that the major league debut game by Stephen Strasburg that aired from  7:00 – 9:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, averaged 462,000 households with an .84 rating. A Nielsen ratings point accounts for approx. 1,149,000, so the game would translate to an average of 965,160

The game that was called by Bob Costas, Jim Kaat and John Smoltz saw patings peaked in the 7:45-8:00 p.m. ET time period with 648,000 households (1.17 rating), or approx. 1,344,330 viewers.

The Male 18-34 demo rated highest in the 7:45-8:00 p.m. time period, with 230,000 viewers (1.4 rating).

Now, just imagine what the ratings would have been if MLB Network had shown the game in the home markets. The telecast, which saw one of the most anticipated debuts in MLB history, was blacked out in the Nationals’ and Pirates’ home television territories. Those markets were left with regional sports networks to choose from, while MLB Network showed the Padres-Mets game.

For MASN, the game was a massive ratings hit, with the RSN seeing record numbers. The game earning a 7.1 HH rating as more than 165,000 households in the Washington region tuned in to watch Strasburg’s debut. Among the key demographic of adults aged 25-54, the game earned a 4.4 HH rating, also a MASN record. 

FOR MORE SEE:

The Strasburg Tracker


Maury BrownMaury 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, as well as a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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MLB Network to Air Stephen Strasburg MLB Debut on June 8 Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 02 June 2010 09:58

Stephen Strasburg

The Strasburg hype machine continues...

MLB Network will air Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg’s Major League Baseball debut, one of the most anticipated in recent MLB history, on Tuesday, June 8 at 7:00 p.m. ET. MLB Network’s Bob Costas, Jim Kaat and John Smoltz will call the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates live from Nationals Park. Strasburg, the number-one overall selection in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, had a rapid rise through the Nationals’ Minor League system in 2010, with his 100-mph fastball and a combined 6-2 record with a 1.43 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 50 1/3 innings for the Harrisburg Senators (Double-A) and Syracuse Chiefs (Triple-A). Strasburg’s MLB debut comes within one year of being drafted on June 9, 2009.

MLB Network’s Matt Vasgersian and Dan Plesac will offer pre- and postgame coverage on MLB Tonight starting at 6:00 p.m. ET. MLB Network’s game telecast will be blacked out in the Nationals’ and Pirates’ home television territory. Viewers in areas subject to blackouts will see the San Diego Padres at New York Mets at 7:00 p.m. ET. The remainder of MLB Network’s game schedule for June 8-12 will be announced shortly.

Strasburg is scheduled to make his first Major League start one day after the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft on Monday, June 7. The Nationals will once again have the first pick in this year’s Draft, which will be held at MLB Network’s Studio 42 in Secaucus, New Jersey. Coverage will begin at 6:00 p.m. ET with a one-hour pre-Draft show with Greg Amsinger, Peter Gammons, John Hart, Harold Reynolds and Hazel Mae, MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo and Baseball America’s Jim Callis, featuring analysis of top prospects, interviews with Club representatives and front office personnel, and a look back over the key Draft moments over the past 45 years.

The first round will begin on MLB Network at 7:00 p.m. ET, with the first round scheduled to be announced by Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. MLB Network’s production will also feature cameras inside 22 Club draft rooms across the league, including coverage of the Nationals’ draft room from Trenni Kusnierek, and live reactions and interviews via remote from top prospects. MLB.com and MLB Network Radio on XM (channel 175) will simulcast MLB Network’s coverage of the Draft.

The Biz of Baseball will begin a "Strasburg Tracker" beginning on June 8th looking at attendance and other factors in the highly touted pitcher's debut season.

Source: MLB Network


Maury BrownMaury 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, as well as a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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MLB Network Has 55 Million Subscribers, But Low Ratings Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 11 May 2010 00:59

MLB NetworkMLB Network was the largest cable channel launch in history, but until now, it’s been unknown how programming on the network would rate. Now at 55 million subscribers, newly released data from Nielsen Media Research shows that only a small fraction of the subscribers are watching.

According to the SportsBusiness Journal, “MLB Network is averaging less than 100,000 viewers in prime time, making its viewership more comparable to channels like Logo and Military Channel than to ESPN or Versus.”

While programming has been highly praised, including four Sports Emmy Awards last month, “only Fox Soccer Channel averaged fewer viewers in prime time and single day in April.”

Still, according to some analysts, as well as MLB Network’s President Tony Petitti, the slow start is part of growing up saying, “We feel good about where we are.”

For one, regardless of ratings, those 55 million subscribers pull in licensing fees from carriers, as well as solid advertising revenue streams.

How does MLB Network stack up? Select READ MORE to see data from Nielsen Media Research by way of the SportsBusiness Journal

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Kevin Millar Joins MLB Network Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 21 April 2010 12:56

MLB NetworkMLB Network continues to increase their stable of on-air talent with former players by adding 12-year Major League Baseball veteran Kevin Millar. Millar, who served as a guest analyst on MLB Network during the 2009 Postseason, will make his 2010 debut on MLB Tonight on Tuesday, April 27 at 5:30 p.m. ET.

Millar joins MLB Tonight analysts Sean Casey, John Hart, Barry Larkin, Al Leiter, Joe Magrane, Dan Plesac, Harold Reynolds, Billy Ripken, John Smoltz and Mitch Williams at MLB Network.

“Kevin Millar brings a fresh and current perspective to MLB Network, having played this past season,” said Tony Petitti, President and CEO of MLB Network. “During the 2009 Postseason, Kevin proved that he can provide valuable analysis and commentary to baseball fans and we’re excited to have him join our already deep roster of on-air talent.”

“Working with the guys at the MLB Network is the next best thing to actually being in a clubhouse,” said Millar. “I am really excited to get started and have some fun.”

A first baseman and outfielder, Millar has batted .274 with 170 home runs and 699 RBI in his career. He was a key member of the 2004 World Champion Boston Red Sox, hitting .297 with 18 home runs and 74 RBI for the season. He has played for the Florida Marlins (1998-2002), Boston Red Sox (2003-2005), Baltimore Orioles (2006-2008) and the Toronto Blue Jays (2009).

After the 2003 season, Kevin received the Jackie Jensen Award, presented annually by the Boston chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) to the player who best embodies the spirit and desire of the former Red Sox outfielder. Following the 2001 season, Kevin was presented with the Charlie Hough Good Guy Award from the Florida chapter of the BBWAA.


Maury BrownMaury 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 available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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MLB Network to Broadcast Minor League Games Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 19 April 2010 11:00
MLB Network

MilB

Minor League Baseball (MiLB) is coming to MLB Network this year, with select live games throughout the 2010 season and the Triple-A All-Star Game. Coverage begins on Monday, April 26 with the Gwinnett Braves (Triple-A - Atlanta Braves) at Durham Bulls (Triple-A - Tampa Bay Rays) at 11:00 a.m. ET, followed by the Burlington Bees (A – Kansas City Royals) at Quad Cities River Bandits (A – St. Louis Cardinals) on Monday, May 3 at 12:00 p.m. ET.

MLB Network’s Mitch Williams and Philadelphia Phillies announcer Tom McCarthy will be in the broadcast booth for the Triple-A All-Star Game on Wednesday, July 14 at 7:00 p.m. ET live from Allentown, Pa., home of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the Philadelphia Phillies Triple-A affiliate. Williams, an 11-year MLB veteran, was a relief pitcher for the Phillies from 1991-1993. McCarthy, who called radio play-by-play for the Phillies from 2001-2005, is currently the Phillies television play-by-play announcer.

MLB Network’s MiLB schedule also includes the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees (Triple-A – New York Yankees) at Indianapolis Indians (Triple-A – Pittsburgh Pirates) on May 19 at 11:00 a.m. ET, timed with Indianapolis’ “Baseball in Education” promotion, and the Norfolk Tides (Triple-A – Baltimore Orioles) at Columbus Clippers (Triple-A – Cleveland Indians) on June 15 at 12:00 p.m. ET. MLB Network will air additional weekday afternoon games throughout the summer and each game will be a simulcast of local telecasts, including local announcers.

"We want to provide viewers with as many live baseball games as possible, and Minor League Baseball on MLB Network will give fans the chance to watch MLB's future standout players," said Tony Petitti, President and Chief Executive Officer of MLB Network.

"Minor League Baseball is pleased to expand its relationship with MLB Network by adding one of our marquee events in the Triple-A All-Star Game, as well as additional regular season games from our various leagues,” said Pat O’Conner, Minor League Baseball President.

The MiLB schedule is in addition to MLB Network’s carriage of live MLB games during the regular season, including MLB Matinee, a series of weekday afternoon games, Thursday Night Baseball and Saturday Night Baseball. Thursday Night Baseball games will be produced by MLB Network and feature MLB Network on-air talent calling the games. All other games will be carriage of local telecasts, including local announcers.

Source: MLB Network


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Changes to MLB's Blackout Policy Not Expected to Move Past FOX Sat. Games Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 06 April 2010 10:51

MLB Extra InningsChanges in the national television blackout policy between FOX and MLB for Sat. day games on MLB Extra Innings will allow fans to see extra games on the out-of-market package, but according to league sources, no other adjustments to the policy are expected any time soon. With only one evening game normally on the Sunday night schedule, changes to ESPN’s national exclusivity agreement are not under discussion. The adjustments made with FOX involve national television blackouts on MLB Extra Innings and is separate from the local market blackout issue that has been a topic of discussion for several years. Those talks are still on-going, and indications are that they will not to be resolved soon.

The change to the national blackout window will allow fans that have purchased MLB Extra Innings for television or MLB.TV for online or mobile devices to now see games that start earlier in the day, or West Coast games later in the evening. According to a memo sent by the cable operator consortium iNDemand to their affiliates, the changes impact seeing games on MLB Extra Innings in three ways (Note: “Package” refers to the changes being adopted):

1) On a Saturday when the first MLB game to be telecast by Fox starts at 4:10pm ET games that start at 1:10pm ET or earlier and 7:05pm ET or later will be included in the package.. No games that begin between 1:10pm ET and 7:05pm ET will be included. This will be the case on 21 Saturdays this season.

2) On a Saturday when the first MLB game to be telecast by Fox starts at 3:10pm ET games that start at 12:10pm ET or earlier and 6:05pm ET or later will be included in the package. No games that begin between 12:10pm ET and 6:05pm ET will be included. This will be the case on 3 Saturdays this season (April 10, May 1 and May 8).

3) On a Saturday when the first MLB game to be telecast by Fox starts at 7:10pm ET games that start at 4:10pm ET or earlier and 10:05pm ET or later will be included in the package. No games that begin between 4:10pm ET and 10:05pm ET will be included. This will be the case on 2 Saturdays this season (May 22 and June 26).


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MLB Extra Innings 2010 Week One Schedule Released Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 05 April 2010 21:55

MLB Extra Innings

You a Comcast, Cox Communications, or Time Warner subscriber? Then you are part of the iNDemand cable consortium that can get MLB Extra Innings, the out-of-market television package. With the package now available, Week One’s schedule has been released.

Select Read More to see the MLB Extra Innings Schedule for the first week of the 2010 MLB season.

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Inside MLB Extra Innings, MLB.TV and Television Blackouts Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Saturday, 03 April 2010 10:28

BlackoutBREAKING UPDATE (4/5/10) - MLB and FOX have reached an agreement to alter the national exclusvity agreement for blackouts on Saturdays. See MLB, FOX Alter Agreement Allowing More Games on MLB Extra Innings


Sunday will mark Opening Night for the 2010 Major League Baseball season when the Yankees and Red Sox play on ESPN (8pm ET). Last season, many local markets, as well as the postseason, saw television ratings increase, the league launched MLB Network, MLB.TV subscriptions were brisk, and sales of MLB.com’s At Bat application for mobile devices, which allows iPhone and iPod Touch users to watch streaming games live, was one of the best sellers on Apple’s iTunes store. Despite a sour economy, it all add up to a record $6.6 billion in gross revenues for MLB.

And yet, this year, as has been the case every year since the launch of MLB Extra Innings, the out-of-market television package on cable and DirecTV, fans continue to be caught in an arcane television blackout policy.

The league will cite that they state “blackout restrictions apply” but the details are buried in exceptionally fine print, and as many of you know, most fail to read those legal terms before purchasing (for DirecTV, you’ll have to scroll to the bottom of this page to find the link). To be fair to MLB, let’s put it this way: the television blackout issue is the #1 customer service call or email the league sees.

Here’s how DirecTV defines the blackout policy:

All local and national blackout restrictions still apply. In other words, subscribers within a club's Home Television Territory cannot get that clubs's games in this national package. In addition, due to the national exclusivity of both FOX and ESPN, there are no games available for distribution via this package on Saturday day or Sunday night, respectively.

If you live in a ZIP code that is within a Major League Baseball team's territory, that team's games will be blacked out from the MLB EXTRA INNINGS game package, but will generally be available as part of your regional sports network or team's over-the-air affiliate television station. Blackouts protect the local rightsholders who arrange separate distribution agreements with the teams for their exclusive territories.

The problem is, DirecTV provides no map, no zip code locator… nothing. Just a case of, “If you’re in the local market, blackout restrictions apply.” The thing that DTV isn’t saying is that you can be in more than one “local market”. In some locations, up to 6 clubs claim a market (Las Vegas, you are one of them). They also don’t tell you that “local market” can be a massive swath on the map. Believe it or not, Montana, you are in the “local market” for the Mariners. Folks living in North Carolina, you are the “local market” for the Orioles and Nationals.

See the map below for MLB’s television territories:

MLB Blackout Map

MLB's blackout map is a confusing case of
overlapping territories
(CLICK TO SEE IN LARGER VIEW)

While MLB.com has fine print in a light font on a white page for MLB.TV’s blackout restrictions (scroll to the bottom of this page), at least they provide more details (and this is important) two methods that allow you to see what games you are going to be blacked out for. DirecTV users, this may be where you save yourself some grief (and possibly money) by using MLB’s information to determine whether to shell out around $200 for a first-time Extra Innings subscriber.

MLB adds this information on local blackouts, as well, on their MLB.TV page:

All live games on MLB.TV and available through MLB.com At Bat are subject to local blackouts. Such live games will be blacked out in each applicable Club's home television territory, regardless of whether that Club is playing at home or away. If a game is blacked out in an area, it is not available for live game viewing. If you are an MLB.TV Premium subscriber and not within either Club's home television territory, the applicable game will be available as an archived game as soon as possible after the conclusion of the game. If you are an MLB.TV Premium subscriber within either Club's home television territory or an MLB.TV subscriber in any territory, the applicable game will be available as an archived game approximately 90 minutes after the conclusion of the game. Archived games are not available through MLB.com At Bat.

In addition, note:

    • These blackout restrictions apply regardless of whether a Club is home or away and regardless of whether or not a game is televised in a Club's home television territory.
    • All live Toronto Blue Jays games are blacked out throughout the entire country of Canada.
    • Additional teams may also be subject to blackout in parts of Canada based on their region.
    • All live games will be blacked out in the U.S. territories of Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands during the MLB regular season.

Remember, this is for Monday-Friday. The weekend is where matters change dramatically.

If you’ve gotten this far, you’re probably confused and scratching your head… “Zip code… territories…”. This next part is easier to understand, and is one aspect of blackouts that may drive consumers the most insane:

On a large portion of Saturdays and Sundays the entire country is blacked out on MLB Extra Innings and MLB.TV due to exclusive agreements with ESPN and FOX

ESPN SATURDAY AND FOX SUNDAY NATIONALBLACKOUTS

MLB gives this information on how ESPN’s and FOX’s national blackout deal works. FOX holds the rights to Saturday games, while ESPN gets games in the evening on Sundays.

Due to Major League Baseball exclusivities, live games occurring each Saturday with a scheduled start time after 1:10 PM ET or before 7:05 PM ET and each Sunday with a scheduled start time after 5:00 PM ET, will be blacked out in the United States (including the territories of Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands). In addition, in the event of extraordinary circumstances that produce a programming conflict, the above blackout windows may be subject to change. If you are an MLB.TV Premium subscriber outside of the United States, each of these games will be available as an archived game as soon as possible after the conclusion of the applicable game. If you are an MLB.TV Premium Subscriber within the United States or an MLB.TV subscriber in any territory, each of these games will be available as an archived game approximately 90 minutes after the conclusion of the applicable game. Archived games are not available through MLB.com At Bat.

There’s more… What if the season goes beyond 162 games, such as we saw last year with a play-in game?

Regular Season Play-In Game: Due to Major League Baseball exclusivities, any play-in game to determine the final team(s) to reach the MLB Postseason, i.e. a 163rd game, will be blacked out in the United States (including the territories of Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands).

And, blackouts impact the postseason…

Postseason Live Blackout: Due to Major League Baseball exclusivities, during the MLB Postseason, all live games will be blacked out in the United States (including the territories of Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and Canada. If you are an MLB.TV Premium Subscriber outside of the United States and Canada, each of these games will be available as an archived game as soon as possible after the conclusion of the applicable game. If you are an MLB.TV Premium Subscriber within the United States or Canada or an MLB.TV subscriber in any territory, each of these games will be available as an archived game approximately 90 minutes after the conclusion of the applicable game. Archived games are not available through MLB.com At Bat.

If it looks like there’s a heavy cut and paste party going on here, it is. The point here is to move the restrictions out from small print to large so that those looking to purchase can make informed decisions.

The final word on this? Depending on where you are, the ability to get MLB games out-of-market is fantastic. But, the key part is “where you live” (or, if you are online, the location of your IP, or if mobile, your geolocation).

WHEN/IF IT WILL BE CHANGED

The question you are asking is, “Why is this going on, and will there be changes?” The answer is money, don’t look for anything soon.

At the local level (go back to that map) for years now MLB has been saying that they plan to address the blackout policy, and each year begins and ends the same way: status quo. In terms of the deals with FOX and ESPN, the policy is locked into the contract agreements, and will most likely be renewed when they come up for renewal.

While MLB could certainly change the policy in mid-season, there has not been a whisper about the blackout situation since the economy tanked, and this off-season was no different. Remember that age old adage before you purchase MLB Extra Innings or MLB.TV: Let the buyer beware.

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Maury BrownMaury 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 available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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MLB Network Releases Live Game Schedule For April Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 30 March 2010 08:56

MLB NetworkMLB Network has announced its live game schedule for the first month of the 2010 MLB regular season. To celebrate the opening of the season, MLB Network will air 30 Games, 30 Clubs, 30 Days, a package of 30 games featuring all 30 Clubs in the month of April, continuing on the theme of MLB Network’s Spring Training series 30 Clubs in 30 Days. The schedule begins with the 2009 World Champion New York Yankees against AL East rival Boston Red Sox on Tuesday, April 6 with MLB Network’s Bob Costas and John Smoltz calling the game at 7:00 p.m. ET. This will mark the first time Smoltz, MLB Network’s newest analyst, calls a game for MLB Network. Immediately after, MLB Network will carry the Minnesota Twins at Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET, rounding out a doubleheader that includes all four 2009 American League Division Series teams.

The April schedule includes the 2010 premiere of Thursday Night Baseball and Saturday Night Baseball as well as the debut of MLB Matinee, a new series of weekday afternoon games, that will continue to air on MLB Network throughout the regular season. MLB Matinee starts with the Colorado Rockies at the Milwaukee Brewers at 1:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, April 7. Thursday Night Baseball, MLB Network’s signature primetime game package, returns on April 8 with the Chicago Cubs at Atlanta Braves at 7:00 p.m. ET and Saturday Night Baseball begins with the Oakland Athletics at Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on April 10 at 9:00 p.m. ET. A preview of the season can be viewed here. MLB Tonight, MLB Network’s live studio show during the regular season, will air every weeknight with live look-ins of games in progress, updates, highlights, reporting and analysis.

“This game schedule is one step toward our goal of adding more coverage of every MLB club in our second year on the air,” said Tony Petitti, president and CEO of MLB Network. “The number of games in April is a great opportunity to bring fans more games to celebrate the start of the season.”

Highlights from the April game schedule include a 2009 ALCS rematch between the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (April 13 & 15), the second game at the new Target Field as the Minnesota Twins host the Boston Red Sox (April 14) and the Tampa Bay Rays at division rivals Boston Red Sox (April 19) in Boston’s traditional Patriot’s Day game.

The Yankees at Red Sox game on April 6 and Thursday Night Baseball games will be produced by MLB Network and feature MLB Network on-air talent calling the games. All other games, including Saturday Night Baseball, will be carriage of local telecasts, including local announcers.

MLB Network will announce future MLB Matinee, Thursday Night Baseball and Saturday Night Baseball games coinciding with its selection windows. Games will be blacked out in each team’s home television territory. Viewers in areas subject to blackouts will be provided with an alternate game telecast or other programming.

Select Read More to see MLB Network’s 30 Games, 30 Clubs, 30 Days schedule

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2010 MLB Season Begins with No End in Sight for Blackout Issues Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 09 March 2010 01:58

BlackoutThe 2010 Major League Baseball season will begin as it has the last three seasons before with league’s arcane blackout policy still in place.

Fans that purchase the out-of-market television package MLB Extra Innings or the online version, MLB.TV can be blacked out of games by one or more team broadcasts, depending in location. For example, if you live in Las Vegas, the Athletics, Giants, Dodgers, Angels, Padres, and Diamondbacks are all blacked out in the area.

And, as of publication, there seems to be no end in sight to the current policy, with the hope for adjustments to the broadcast territories coming this year remote.

In 2007, MLB president and COO Bob DuPuy began attempts to get the owners to make changes to the territories. The adjustment that DuPuy has been lobbying for would have clubs lose a portion of their television territory, if they have not broadcast within it for over a year.

“I see no reason why there ought to be so many clubs able to black out in those territories,” DuPuy said in late 2008. “That’s my intention. That’s my goal. I didn’t get any pushback. The whole thing is about making the game more popular and available.”


Maury BrownMaury 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 available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

Follow Maury Brown on Twitter Twitter

Follow The Biz of Baseball on Twitter Twitter

FacebookFollow the Business of Sports Network on Facebook

 
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