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The MLB Channel is a TV specialty channel dedicated to professional baseball. It's primarily owned by WMFL Corporation (50%) along with the MLB (50%). The channel's headquarters & studios are located in Secaucus, New Jersey. Profitability is expected by the end of 2009, according to industry sources. And by 2015, revenue from cable subscriber fees & advertising is projected to soar beyond $210 million, with a net value easily exceeding $1 billion

HistoryEdit

New channelEdit

MLB became the 4th major North American professional sports league to launch it's own 24-hour channel. The NBA Network dates back to 1995, NHL TV in 2001 & NFL TV in 2003. However, The MLB Channel is carried in the most households of these 4 networks, largely because of the financial participation of the cable systems.

The MLB Channel soft-launched on October 26th, 2008 with a rolling automated loop of archival programming & promotions for the network for cable systems that carried the network's transmissions leading up to the January 1st launch. The channel fully launched at 6:00 PM EST with the premiere of MLB Off-Season News

CarriageEdit

The network has signed contracts with 36 cable & 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 Baseball package. In return, cable & satellite providers were offered a minority share of the new network. 2 major TV providers that are not currently carrying the channel are AT&T U-Verse & DISH Network, leaving DirecTV with satellite exclusivity. DISH Network has been in an ongoing carriage dispute about MLB Extra Baseball since the end of the 2006 season.

On March 26th 2010, it was announced that satellite radio station MLB Home Plate will be rebranded to MLB Radio which will simulcast some MLB Channel programs such as MLB GameDay LIVE

Canadian carriageEdit

To date, no announcements have been made about The MLB Channel's availability outside the U.S., particularly in Canada, home of the Toronto Blue Jays. Network officials have been in contact with the Blue Jays owner (& Canada's largest cable company) Rogers Communications about making The MLB Channel available in Canada, but emphasized prior to the channel's launch that a deal was not imminent.

In August of 2008, Rogers secured CRTC approval for a Canadian digital channel tentatively called "Baseball TV", which has not yet launched. This license could be used to launch a localized version of The MLB Channel with domestic advertising & additional Canadian content, similar to the current NBA Network. This appears to be Rogers' preferred option. An alternative would be for MLB & a sponsoring cable or satellite company (such as Rogers) to seek separate CRTC approval to import the U.S. channel directly, as has been done with NFL TV

The MLB Channel HDEdit

The MLB Channel HD is a 720p HD simulcast of The MLB Channel, which launched simultaneously to the regular channel. After much discussion, The MLB Channel decided to use the 720p format instead of 1080i because it believes 720p shows the motion of baseball more accurately & will degrade less when recompressed by cable operators to save bandwidth. All studio programs & original shows are shot in HD, as well as all self produced games such as those of the 2009 World Baseball Classic & MLB Thursday Night, as well as simulcasted locally produced games on MLB Saturday Night. The network is also currently remastering 30 World Series Films in HD. Also during MLB GameDay LIVE the channel shows exclusive LIVE HD look-ins to games in progress via it's local channel. Programs not available in HD originally have unique stylized pillarboxes: brick walls reminiscent of an older baseball stadium, with The MLB Channel's logo in the middle. Beginning on March 27th 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 @ times as well.

The MLB Channel HD is available nationally on DirecTV & regionally on Verizon FiOS, Cablevision, Comcast, COX Communications, Time Warner Cable & Bright House Networks

ProgrammingEdit

The MLB Channel has a large amount of original programs, including:

LIVE game coverageEdit

Regular SeasonEdit

  • MLB Thursday Night: The MLB Channel's weekly presentation of LIVE non-exclusive games on Thursday nights began on April 9th, 2009. The MLB Channel produced 25 non-exclusive LIVE games in 2009. Since the games are non-exclusive & will also be covered by 1 or both teams' local TV rights holders, they are subject to local blackouts. Therefore, The MLB Channel has launched an alternate feed with a different out of market game (from a local TV rights holder) for these blacked out viewers. DirecTV has a dedicated channel for the alternate feed. Cable uses the regular MLB Channel ch. number
  • MLB Saturday Night: The MLB Channel also simulcasts games on Saturday nights from 1 of the team's local TV rights holder. Typically the home team's telecast is utilized. These games are also subject to local blackouts. MLB Saturday Night will also use the alternate feed for the same purpose
  • MLB DayGame: Beginning in 2010, The MLB Channel will air a series of weekday afternoon MLB games throughout the regular season. The same will happen for the 2011 regular season

InternationalEdit

International LIVE game coverage self-produced by The MLB Channel includes the World Baseball Classic & the Caribbean Series

Spring TrainingEdit

The channel also airs LIVE & tape-delayed Spring Training games, simulcasted from 1 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 & occasionally LIVE college baseball & minor league games. In August of 2009, they will air youth baseball championships, including the RBI World Series & the Cal Ripken World Series. It also airs some games of the Arizona Fall League including the championship

Daily showsEdit

  • MLB GameDay LIVE: The signature show of MLB Network, which debuted @ the start of 2009 Spring Training in a 60-minute format & since the regular season began on April 5th 2009, it has aired Monday-Saturday from 6:00 PM ET until the final MLB game of the night is over. The show has updates, highlights, news & 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, The MLB Channel has decided to use the "ballpark cam" only before & after games. LIVE cut-ins simulcast from the station covering the game. It has 3 versions daily: Batting Practice, beginning at 6:00 PM ET, 1st to 4th beginning at 8:00 PM ET & MLB ScoreBoard beginning at 10:00 PM ET
  • MLB Off-Season News: During the offseason, MLB Off-Season News is the signature program on The MLB Channel, airing at 7:00 PM ET weekdays. It features news reports & analysis of all offseason moves as teams prepare for the upcoming season
  • Quick Pitch: A 60-minute daily fast-paced show of highlights from that day's games. Premiered April 12th. Currently, it debuts at 1:00 AM ET overnights, airing again at 2:00 AM & then in a continuous loop from 5:00 AM-1:00 PM ET, weekdays
  • World Baseball Classic GameDay LIVE: A show similar to MLB GameDay LIVE, World Baseball Classic GameDay LIVE features highlights, analysis & special reports on the tournament

OtherEdit

  • All-Time Games: Classic baseball games. The premiere episode on January 1st 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 & Yogi Berra, who caught the game & included all original Gillette advertisements from the NBC coverage
  • 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 3rd, 2010
  • 30 Clubs, 30 Report Cards: A sequel to 30 Teams in 30 Days. In July, the host looks back @ predictions made during the spring & grades each team's performance thus far through the season
  • 30 Clubs, 30 Recaps: The offseason version of the above which airs during MLB Off-Season News, premiered on December 7th 2009, recaps each team's season & looks ahead to next season
  • Diamond Demos: An instructional show featuring an expert in a certain aspect of baseball. Premiered April 6th
  • World Series Classics is re-airings of the World Series in their entirety. Each week, a different series has been featured
  • Prime 9: A series devoted to the topic of the 9 greatest in anything involved with baseball
  • Studio 42: an interview show with prominent baseball figures
  • Front Burner: The channel's insiders have a round table discussion about the off-season & take questions & comments from viewers via phone calls, emails, Facebook & Twitter. Was originally a separate hour-long show, but is now a segment on MLB Off-Season News on Wednesdays

DocumentariesEdit

  • Baseball's Seasons: A documentary series set against the events of a certain baseball season
  • Inside the Moments: A series premiering on January 2nd that features memorable moments & the stories behind them
  • Rising Sons: A documentary on how Japanese players have adjusted to life in America

RepeatsEdit

  • The Cathedrals of the Game: takes viewers on tours of MLB stadiums & explores the history of the team & the city

StudiosEdit

The Secaucus-based studios have 2 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 takes place. The studio includes seating for over 125 people & a real-time out of town scoreboard based on those similar to PNC Park, Citizens Bank Park & Citi Field

External LinksEdit

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