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"Major League Baseball at Bat" -- an MLB-sponsored baseball info-site on the World Wide Web is now open. The site offers fans the latest MLB news and is part of MCI's Internet site. It may be reached through MCI at www.internetMCI.com and soon at www.majorleaguebaseball.com. For Opening Day, MLB at Bat will have complete AL and NL schedules, and has plans to soon offer previous-night game results and box scores, MLB news and notes, stats, player news, game text and the photo of the day. Later in the season, the site will offer team schedules, rosters, team and league history, and ticket info. MCI is the Official Long Distance Carrier of MLB and has a marketing relationship with The Baseball Network through the '98 season (MLB). MLB joins the NFL as the second major leagues to launch a site on the Web. According to Tom Worcester, Dir of Sponsorship Sales & Marketing at The Baseball Network, the league anticipates having balloting for the All-Star Game on both the Internet and on a combo of commercial online services (Terry Lefton, BRANDWEEK, 4/24). MORE ON TBN: Noting that MLB is likely to exercise its right to re-evaluate its deal with The Baseball Network after this season, N.Y. NEWSDAY's Steve Zipay suggests that MLB extend the deal by one year. It would give TBN "a real shot at a complete season and postseason," and give the league more leverage should it decide to abandon TBN after '96 and sell TV rights to a network bidder. As for which TBN partner will televise the World Series, Zipay notes that if ABC does it this year, NBC (provided TBN still exists) would have a "potential blockbuster sports year in 1996," with the Super Bowl, World Series and Olympics (NEWSDAY, 4/25). OTHER MLB NEWS: Pinnacle has signed to replace Upper Deck as a TBN sponsor and will also assume title sponsorship of the All-Star Fan Fest (BRANDWEEK, 4/24)....To further develop its interactive technology category, MLBP announced the addition of two new licensees, Accolade, Inc. and Tiger Electronics. Accolade is licensed to produce All-Star Baseball, a CD-ROM simulation game. Tiger will produce Super Data Blaster, a hand-held stat organizer (MLBP).
CBS is changing the name of "Eye on Sports" to "The CBS Sports Show" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/25)....HBO Sports President Seth Abraham said despite George Foreman's controversial decision over Axel Schulz, they have experienced "no drop-off in our interest in George." In fact, expect Foreman to fight again July 22 from Germany with Schulz featured in a separate bout (Richard Sandomir, N.Y. TIMES, 4/25). Tonight's USA Network boxing coverage will feature a 900 number for opinions on Foreman-Schulz (USA TODAY, 4/25)....In Philadelphia, Mike Bruton notes that the "NHL on Fox" is getting a "tremendous response" in St. Louis, Detroit and Philadelphia (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 4/25)....Wayne Huizenga and Liberty Sports have invested in the Classic Sports Network, the cable service debuts on May 6 (N.Y. TIMES, 4/25).
The Nuggets and Prime Sports will combine for the second consecutive year to broadcast the team's home playoff games on a pay-per-view basis. Last year, the operation's sign-up rate was "considerable," as 55,000 households enrolled for games against Seattle and Utah. Prime Sports spokesperson Craig Kuhl noted that 13% of homes with access bought the last Utah game. Local bars can purchase games starting at $100, with the fee based on the size of the establishment. Team officials say there has been no negative reaction. Nuggets VP Shawn Hunter: "It wasn't a matter of free TV or pay TV. It's a matter of no TV or pay TV. Up until last year, the Nuggets never televised their home playoff games." For the first series, the team's away games will be on KWGN (Chance Conner, DENVER POST, 4/25).
Cox Communications and Times Mirror are expected to announce today that they will invest more than $100M to launch two new cable sports networks. One network will be devoted to outdoor sports and the other to motor sports. Both will be advertiser- supported basic cable services. The channels will be run by Roger Werner, former President and CEO of ESPN. In February, Times Mirror merged its cable systems with Cox as part of a complex $2.3B cash-and-stock transaction agreed to last June (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/25).