MLB Network To Carry Two Playoff Games; Costas, Kaat Returning To Broadcast Booth
MLB Network "will carry two first-round" playoff games on Sunday and next Wednesday, the first two postseason games to air on the net, according to Michael Hiestand of USA TODAY. MLB Network's game Sunday "will include analyst Jim Kaat calling his first postseason action since 1995," while Bob Costas on Oct. 10 "makes his first postseason calls since 2000." The move will "force viewers to find out if they get" MLB Network, and "kvetch to their TV provider if they don't." MLB Network President & CEO Tony Petitti said, "This addition of these games is critical for us." Meanwhile, MLB VP/Business PR Matt Bourne yesterday said that the two Wild Card games "will likely be in East Coast late-afternoon and prime-time TV slots" on Friday. He added those plans are not finalized "because we still don't know what teams will be in" (USA TODAY, 10/3).
GOING NATIONAL: In L.A., Joe Flint notes MLB's new deals with Fox and Turner clear the way for Fox "to use baseball for a new national sports cable channel it is planning to launch in the summer of 2013." Fox' agreement with MLB "allows it to put as many as 40 games on a nationally distributed cable channel starting in 2014." The net also "received broad rights to baseball highlights that could be used for a sports news program similar to ESPN's 'SportsCenter'" (L.A. TIMES, 10/3). As part of the agreement, Fox Deportes "will continue to be the Spanish-language home to MLB, carrying all Fox televised games, including the All-Star Game, Division Series, LCS and World Series" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 10/3).
SNOWBALL EFFECT? American Cable Association President & CEO Matthew Polka yesterday said that sports rights deals "are out of control and threaten the future of the pay-television industry." Polka: "The plain truth is that these MLB deals will send monthly pay-TV bills streaking skyward." He added MLB's new deal will "make life hard for families whose incomes, hammered by the recession, can’t keep pace with the greed of broadcasters, cable networks and sports leagues" (L.A. TIMES, 10/3).
AMERICA & THE BEAUTIFUL GAME: Fox Sports VP/Programming & Research Mike Mulvihill yesterday said soccer is the "next national pastime." The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Eriq Gardner notes Mulvihill was "attempting to explain his enthusiasm for the growth of live sports" while speaking as a panelist at the Advertising Week conference in N.Y. Mulvihilll "pointed to a statistic that the last World Cup had a bigger rating in the 18-35 demo than NCAA basketball." He said that TV "at large is skewing older, but that soccer is gaining popularity among younger audiences." Mulvihill also "expressed positive feelings about baseball." He said yesterday's agreement was a "landmark deal." Mulvihill is "high on football as well, particularly the in-roads the sport has made among women" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 10/2).