MLB Network will televise 16 World Baseball Classic games this Spring along with a nightly studio show dedicated to the world’s premier international baseball tournament.
The World Baseball Classic will feature players representing 16 countries and territories, and will be played in seven different venues in five nations and territories from March 5 – 23.
World Baseball Classic Tonight, which will debut in late February, will feature highlights, analysis, feature stories and special reports on the tournament, its teams, players and coaches. MLB Network also will air the World Baseball Classic Selection Show, a studio show reporting on the announcement of the rosters.
“The acquisition of the World Baseball Classic demonstrates our commitment to airing big events and showcasing a wide variety of baseball programming,” said Tony Petitti, MLB Network President and CEO. “With game broadcasts and studio programming dedicated to the World Baseball Classic, MLB Network will provide in-depth coverage to all of the action and stories of the ultimate global baseball tournament.”
“MLB Network’s coverage of the World Baseball Classic is a perfect example of how the network will be able to provide a unique perspective, expanded coverage, and studio analysis of an event that baseball fans are passionate about,” said Bob DuPuy, Major League Baseball President and Chief Operating Officer.
"MLB Network's association with the World Baseball Classic adds an exciting new dimension to the coverage of the Classic, already the premier international baseball event in the world," stated Gene Orza, Major League Baseball Players Association Chief Operating Officer. "What is particularly exciting is the knowledge that, with the team it has assembled, MLB Network's history is bound to be a memorable one, and the World Baseball Classic will have been there at the beginning."
The opening round of the 2009 tournament will begin on March 5 and will be played entirely outside of the 50 United States, with Pool A (China, Chinese Taipei, Japan and Korea) competing at the Tokyo Dome, home to the Yomiuri Giants of the Nippon Pro Baseball league; Pool B (Australia, Cuba, Mexico and South Africa) at Estadio Foro Sol in Mexico City, Mexico, home to the Mexico City Red Devils of the Mexican League; Pool C (Canada, Italy, United States and Venezuela) at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada, MLB regular season home to the Toronto Blue Jays; and Pool D (Dominican Republic, Netherlands, Panama and Puerto Rico) at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
In the opening round, MLB Network will air the entire Mexico City pool, three games from the Toronto pool, and two games from the San Juan pool.
Round Two games will be played in PETCO Park, home of the San Diego Padres, and Dolphin Stadium, home of the Florida Marlins. The four advancing teams from Pools A and B will compete in San Diego from March 15 – 19, and the four teams emerging from Pools C and D will contend in Miami from March 14 – 18. MLB Network will air one game from San Diego and four games from Miami.
MLB Network launches on January 1, 2009 and is expected to be the largest cable channel launch in history reaching 50 million households.