MLB Network set to launch Jan. 1

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Posted by on November 28, 2008 at 12:21:58:

iDGi: MLB Network set to launch Jan. 1

Major League Baseball is set to launch the MLB Network on Jan. 1, according to multiple recent media reports.

A source told The Capital Times a preview is expected on or around Dec. 9.

Because baseball is accepting placement on digital cable, the MLB Network is expected to be available at launch on most of the major pay TV providers.

MLB Network already has carriage deals with 43 operators, reaching approximately 50 million homes on digital basic or equivalent tiers, reported recently.

That stands in contrast to the Big Ten Network, which insisted in placement on an analog basic service level and didn't sign deals with the major cable companies until its second year.

Those expected to carry the network include Charter Communications, the dominant cable provider for the Madison area.

"We have plans to add MLB Network in Wisconsin around the time the network begins programming, but specific information is still being formulated," Charter spokesman John Miller said in an e-mail. "We will be making an announcement very soon."

DirecTV spokesman Robert Mercer said the nation's largest satellite provider plans to launch the channel on Jan. 1.

No. 2 satellite provider DISH Network could not be reached for comment.

AT&T did not provide a definitive answer regarding its U-verse TV service.

"Although I can't discuss our programming negotiations, I can assure you that we're always working to add more channels to our lineup," spokesman Chris Bauer said in an e-mail. "We're committed to offering content that our customers want."

Verizon's FiOS TV service, which isn't available yet in Wisconsin, will launch the channel on Jan. 1

The on-air talent for the MLB Network will include Trenni Kusnierek, who was a sideline reporter for Milwaukee Brewers broadcasts on FSN Wisconsin in 2008, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported recently.

MLB Network earlier announced that it had hired the former TV voice of the Brewers, Matt Vasgersian, as a studio host. Vasgersian last year was the TV voice of the San Diego Padres.

Multichannel also reported that MLB Network will carry 26 regular season games in 2009 - most likely airing on Thursdays or Saturdays.

And Tim Brosnan, MLB vice president of business, said the network is positioning itself to be an active bidder for a much larger live game package once the current deals with ESPN, TBS and Fox expire in 2013, Multichannel reported.

(Jeff Richgels, 77 Square)

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