SBJ/September 1 - 7, 2003/This Weeks Issue

In Demand will feature MLB on HD channel

In Demand has signed a multiyear deal with Major League Baseball to carry games on its soon-to-launch high-definition channel.

"INHD" will launch Sept. 15 on cable systems owned by Cox Communications, Time Warner Cable and Comcast Cable Communications, the companies that jointly own In Demand. The first MLB game will be shown the next day.

INHD will retransmit telecasts from local markets that already are produced in high definition, blacking them out in the competing teams' home cities. Teams that have local high-definition coverage include the Orioles, Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Red Sox and New York Mets, with more joining that group every year.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but In Demand chief operating officer Rob Jacobson said that MLB made it affordable.

"It wasn't free, but we fortunately have a very good relationship with MLB," he said. In Demand distributes the league's "Extra Innings" out-of-market package to cable customers.

"I think they saw this as a valuable extension of that relationship, so we were able to do this at a level that made sense for everyone," Jacobson said.

He said a deal with another "major professional league" will be announced soon. He estimated INHD will reach 500,000 homes at launch.

Mark Cuban's HDNet carried MLB games until this season. It handled its own high-definition production, bringing a separate broadcast truck and set of cameras to each game, but used graphics and play-by-play calls from Fox Sports Net affiliates.

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