The 2011 Major League Baseball season is not even 3 weeks old, but the leagueâ€™s broadcast partners are already upbeat about what the season has to offer.
In interviews I conducted for an article for Variety Weekly (see MLB on precipice of renewed success), execs from ESPN, FOX, and MLB Network (Turner Sports was not interviewed) said ad inventory was being sold at a brisk pace ahead of last year. As reported:
The sport got off to a good start on the ratings front this month, with ESPN showing gains, led by its Sunday night telecast of the Boston Red Sox against the New York Yankees on April 10, which drew 4.7 million viewers -- the cabler's largest aud for the sport since August 2009
Some questions remain as to whether MLB Networkâ€™s increased live game coverage could interfere with being able to gain increased rights fees with the leagueâ€™s national broadcast partners. The league-owned network is increasing its live regular-season broadcasts to more than 100 this year, including a frequent Tuesday doubleheader to provide more exposure for West Coast teams and to inject more game coverage into its mix of pre-recorded features and highlights shows. To prime the pump, it's airing a run of 30 games featuring all 30 MLB teams Tuesdays through Saturdays in April. Not so says John Ourand of the SportsBusiness Journal.
"Rights fees are increasing across the board for every sport," he says. "Because of the amount of programming baseball produces (all summer against little competition) and the presence of new potential bidders (such as FX, Versus and TruTV), the market for rights holders has never been bigger -- regardless of what the league decides to put on its network."
Read the entire article MLB on precipice of renewed success on Variety.com
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