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YOU'RE OUUTTAA HERE: NBC, ABC LEAVE THE BASEBALL NETWORK
Published June 23, 1995
MLB's national TV package "became as uncertain as its labor situation Thursday when ABC and NBC decided to quit the sport after this season," according to Ronald Blum of the ASSOCIATED PRESS. The two networks "decided to pull out of the joint venture" when Bud Selig "refused to make a decision on renewing it for 1996." TBN's three-year pact will now expire after this year's World Series. If revenue for the first two seasons had hit $330M, it would have renewed automatically (AP/ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 6/23). CONFIRMATIONS AND REAX: ABC and NBC's withdrawal has not been officially announced by MLB, "but was confirmed by an owner on baseball's television committee who spoke on the condition that he not be identified" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 6/23). Rich Levin, MLB's Exec Dir of PR, also confirmed the story last night (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/23). An official statement from the league is expected today, but before the story broke, TBN President Ken Schanzer said it "wouldn't come as a surprise." Schanzer: "ABC and NBC made clear over the past several weeks what their position was. I'm saddened by it. It would be the end of a terrific enterprise" (AP/Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 6/23). FROM THE NETS: NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol said neither network would bid on MLB's broadcast rights "through this century." Ebersol: "We have done everything to be good partners, and we've been treated like scum. We're outta here ... and we won't be back." More Ebersol, on the possibility of MLB signing with Fox: "(Baseball) probably thinks that like CBS, it has another sucker in Fox to pay big rights fees. But for $1 million to $1.5 million a club -- or $28 million to $40 million more than Fox -- they're trading the promotion from the number one and two networks for a pushcart." ABC Sports President Dennis Swanson: "The baseball network was working. The (July 11th) All-Star Game has a record $18 million in ad sales, and if TBN had its full two years, it clearly would have exceeded its required goal of $330 million" (Rudy Martzke, USA TODAY, 6/23).