Behind the Broadcast: MLB Network has found niche
The MLB Network didn’t get off to a great start in the Capital Region New Year’s night.
That night, the network made its debut at 6 p.m. Because of transmission problems, however, Time Warner subscribers in Schenectady, Troy, Queensbury and Saratoga Springs didn’t see the channel until nearly five hours later. I wasn’t thrilled, and my first thought was that this could hurt the channel’s chances of succeeding.
But as we approach the Major League Baseball All-Star break, I must say that MLB Network is clearly the rookie channel of the year.
I find myself more and more tuning into MLB Network to get the baseball scores. When I am home at night, I’ll have the channel on and catch some of the live look-ins of games. When my son wakes up in the morning, instead of turning on Nickelodeon to watch “Spongebob Squarepants” or “ICarly” (yes, I have seen those shows too many times on my TV), he tunes into “Quick Pitch” and tells me about the games that happened the previous night. That tells me he is seriously into baseball.
Just this week, MLB Network has shown All-Star games from 1975 and 1976. Those games probably haven’t been seen in years. For me, watching some of the 1976 game from Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia brought back some great memories.
Another interesting thing I saw took place Wednesday morning, when Baltimore Orioles manager Dave Trembley was ejected from Tuesday’s game against the Seattle Mariners. The highlights, which came from the MASN Orioles’ broadcast, showed Trembley getting into a heated argument with home plate umpire Tom Hallion.
The microphones were strong enough to pick up what Trembley was saying, and MLB Network translated it by putting what he said on the screen. You usually don’t see that, and it was a good move by MLB Network.
To me, MLB Network is slowly surpassing ESPN as the destination for baseball fans. It’s all baseball, all the time, and you’ve got to love that.
Fox will televise the MLB All-Star game from St. Louis Tuesday, starting at 8 p.m. The game will be seen locally on WXXA Ch. 23 and WXXA HD.
ESPN and ESPN HD will televise the Home Run Derby at 8 p.m. Monday.
WTMM-FM (104.5) and WENT-AM (1340) will carry the All-Star game and Home Run Derby from ESPN Radio.
ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD has the All-Star Futures Game at 2 p.m. Sunday. Sirius XM Radio will have the game on XM channel 175.
CLASSIC RATES WELL
Roger Federer and Andy Roddick’s epic Wimbledon final last Sunday was the most-viewed men’s final at the All England Club in 10 years.
NBC said Thursday that 5.71 million people tuned in to watch Federer win his record-setting 15th Grand Slam title. The number was the highest since Pete Sampras beat Andre Agassi in the 1999 final, attracting 5.85 million viewers.
The 3.8 rating and 10 share was the best for a men’s final since Sampras defeated Patrick Rafter in 2000, and surpassed last year’s classic between Federer and Rafael Nadal by 9 percent.
Federer beat Roddick, 5-7, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), 3-6, 16-14, in a match that lasted four hours, 16 minutes. The fifth set was the longest in major final history.
USOC to start channel
The U.S. Olympic Committee announced Wednesday that it was creating a network devoted to Olympic programming. But that isn’t sitting well with International Olympic Committee leaders.
The IOC is less than pleased that the USOC is forming a network with the Comcast cable company. The network, which is expected to debut after the 2010 Winter Games, will be devoted to showing Olympic programming. It’s a network that the USOC hopes will promote the Olympic movement.
Instead, it has ticked off the IOC. The main problem, as the IOC sees it, is the new network could affect the relationship with NBC, which had the Olympic TV rights through 2012, and plans on bidding for the 2014 Winter and 2016 Summer games. Chicago is a finalist for the 2016 games.
“We were aware that the USOC had been considering a new ‘Olympic broadcast network,’ but we have never been presented with a plan, and we had assumed that we would have an opportunity to discuss unresolved questions together before the project moved forward,” the IOC said in a statement.
“It is for this reason that the IOC is disappointed that USOC acted unilaterally and, in our view, in haste by announcing their plans before we had a chance to consider together the ramifications.”
Norman Bellingham, chief operating officer of the USOC, claimed the IOC knew the USOC had plans to start a network. So, the IOC complains caught him by surprise.
“We firmly believe that what we’re doing with this network is in the best interest of the Olympic movement,” Bellingham told The Associated Press. “This is something that’s going to deliver great value to them. ”
TNT and TNT HD televises its final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season, the LifeLock.com 400, tonight at 8. The race will be carried on the radio by WVKZ-AM (1240) and WSDE-AM (1190). . . .
On Sunday, WVKZ will carry the IRL Honda Indy Toronto at 1 p.m. ABC (WTEN Ch. 10 and WTEN HD) will televise the race. . . .
NBC (WNYT Ch. 13 and WNYT HD) will have the final two rounds of the U.S. Women’s Open today and Sunday at 3 p.m.