Tuesday, December 30, 2008

MLB Network Launches January 1st

It was only a matter of time, wasn't it?  The MLB becomes the last of the major pro sports leagues to create its own channel. For the most part, unlike what was seen with the NFL Network and the Big Ten Network, the MLB Network will be widely available, as it will appear in more than 50 million homes when it launches.  To Bud Selig's credit, he elected for the cable companies to have a sizable ownership stake in the MLB Network, allowing the channel to be shown on basic cable on Comcast, DirecTV, Time Warner, Cox, etc.  The only cable holdouts are AT&T U-Verse and Dish Network.  I happen to think MLB Network will be the most successful of the television speciality channels because of the daily aspect of the game.

On Jan. 1st at 6pm, MLB Network launches with "Hot Stove", featuring special guest World Champion Jimmy Rollins.  The one-hour offseason staple show will be followed by a re-air of the famous Game 5 of the 1956 World Series, where Don Larsen threw a perfect game. Additional programming features 16 World Baseball Classic games in March, 26 Thursday night MLB "Game of the Week" telecasts during the course of the season, and "MLB Tonight" from April-October.  "MLB Tonight" (similar to ESPN's "Baseball Tonight") will air from 6pm until 2am from Monday-Saturday and include live-look ins, analysis and highlights.

On-air personalities include: Matt Vasgersian, Harold Reynolds, Al Leiter, Barry Larkin, Mitch Williams, Dan Plesac, Tom Verducci, Jon Heyman
*There is strong speculation that Bob Costas (NBC/HBO) will join MLB Network in an on-air role. Costas will conduct an interview with Yogi Berra & Don Larsen after the Jan. 1 air of the 1956 World Series.


Jeremy Kreisberg said...

"...World Champion Jimmy Rollins."

I think I'm going to be sick.

In all seriousness, this network should be a big success. They built their studio from scratch in seven months with enough space for a mock baseball diamond and they installed their own cameras at every Major League ballpark, so it should be the perfect way to keep track of all of the action over the summer.

Matt Boyer said...

I agree with Rob. Of the major sports, this is the one that is most conducive to an everyday style. I like the idea of 24 hrs of baseball coverage. Plus, the MLB now has the best in-studio crew of the three other major sports networks. Verducci and Reynolds are great, and if they got Costas it would be hands down the best crew.

Jeremy Kreisberg said...

Definitely true. Considering they'll have Matt Vasgersian, who did PxP for the Padres for many years after coming up through the minor league ranks, and Jon Heyman, who has been an insider for SI.com and always seems to be on top of the hot stove rumors, they'll be able to compete with ESPN's baseball coverage from the get-go.

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