|Launched||January 1, 2009|
|Owned by||Major League Baseball (67%)
Time Warner Cable (5.44%)
Cox Communications (5.44%)
|Picture format||720p (HDTV)
480i (SDTV/16:9 letterbox)
|Slogan||"Our National Pastime All The Time" (current)
"Get Caught Looking" (current)
"Our National Pastime Goes Full Time". (original, prior to launch)
|Broadcast area||United States|
|Headquarters||One MLB Network Plaza
Secaucus, New Jersey
|Sister channel(s)||MLB Network Radio|
|DirecTV (US)||213 (HD/SD)
214 (SD) 214-1 (HD) Alternate feed
719 MLB Strike Zone (HD/SD)
|DirecTV (Latin America)||656|
|Dish Network||152 (HD/SD)
478 HD/SD Alternate feed
|Available on many cable systems||Check local listings|
|Verizon FiOS||586 (HD)
|AT&T U-verse||1634 (HD)
MLB Network is an American television sports channel dedicated to baseball. It is primarily owned by Major League Baseball, with television providers Comcast, DirecTV, Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications having minority ownership. The channel's headquarters and studios are located in the Secaucus, New Jersey facility which formerly housed MSNBC's studios. Tony Petitti, former executive producer of CBS Sports, was named the network's first president.
Major League Baseball became the fourth major North American professional sports league to launch its own 24-hour cable network. NBA TV dates back to 1999, the NHL Network to 2001 (though not in the United States until 2007), and the NFL Network to 2003. However, MLB Network is carried in the most households of these four networks, as it is available on all of the top ten video operators in the United States.
MLB Network soft-launched on December 16, 2008 with a rolling automated loop of archival programming and promotions for the network for cable systems that carried the network's transmissions leading up to the January 1 launch. The channel fully launched at 6 PM EST with the premiere of Hot Stove.
In April 2012, MLB Network's standard definition feed shifted to a 16:9 letterbox format. Both of the network's SD and HD feeds now show the same format.
The network has signed contracts with numerous cable and satellite carriers, including DirecTV, Dish Network, Verizon FiOS, Cablevision, Comcast, Cox Communications, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, and AT&T Uverse. In a deal that was pioneered by other sports league owned channels, MLB tied carriage of the MLB Network to the ability to carry the popular out of market MLB Extra Innings package. In return, cable and satellite providers were offered a minority share of the new network.
On March 26, 2010, it was announced that satellite radio station MLB Home Plate will be rebranded to MLB Network Radio which will simulcast some MLB Network programs such as MLB Tonight and Hot Stove. The switchover began on April 4, the first day of the 2010 MLB season.
At launch, no announcement was made about MLB Network availability in Canada, home of the Toronto Blue Jays. Network officials had been in contact with Blue Jays owner (and Canada's largest cable company) Rogers Communications about making MLB Network available in Canada, but emphasized prior to the channel's launch that a deal was not imminent.
In August 2008, Rogers secured Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approval for a Canadian digital channel tentatively called "Baseball TV". This license could have been used to launch a localized version of MLB Network with domestic advertising and additional Canadian content, along the lines of NBA TV Canada, which is owned by the parent company of the Toronto Raptors but uses much of the content of the league's U.S. channel NBA TV. It was reported initially that Rogers intended to pursue this approach to bring MLB Network to Canada. However, the licence was issued on the condition the channel launch by August 2011, which did not occur.
Rogers ultimately agreed to sponsor MLB Network's request to be added to the CRTC's list of approved foreign television services, which would permit Canadian cable and satellite providers to import the American feed, as has occurred previously with similar niche-sports services such as NFL Network or Golf Channel. The application was published for public comment on June 13, 2012 and was approved on November 21, 2012. Despite this approval, neither Rogers nor any other Canadian cable or satellite company has since added the service to their lineups.
The 720p high definition simulcast of MLB Network launched simultaneously to the regular channel. After much discussion, MLB Network decided to use the 720p format instead of 1080-line-interlace because it believes 720p shows the motion of baseball more accurately and will degrade less when recompressed by cable operators to save bandwidth. As Mark Haden (VP of engineering and IT of MLB Network) says: "That's our best shot of maintaining quality to viewers." All studio programs and original shows are shot in HD, as well as all self produced games such as those of the 2009 World Baseball Classic and Thursday Night Baseball, as well as simulcasted locally produced games on Saturday Night Baseball. The network is also currently remastering 30 World Series Films in high definition. Also during MLB Tonight the channel shows exclusive live HD look-ins to games in progress via its local channel. Programs not available in HD originally have unique stylized pillarboxes: brick walls reminiscent of an older baseball stadium, with the MLB Network logo in the middle. Beginning on March 27, 2009, pillarboxes with a more generic design were used with some programming: solid blue bars with the logo in the middle. The brick wall design pillarboxes continue to be used at times as well.
The 720p format is also used by affiliates of regional sports network Fox Sports Networks, which holds the rights to local game coverage of several teams, Phillies broadcaster WPHL-TV, and WWOR-TV in Secaucus, New Jersey/New York, which broadcasts a limited schedule of Yankees games. MLB national broadcast partners Fox and ESPN also produce their programming in 720p.
MLB Network HD is available nationally on DirecTV  and Dish Network  and regionally on Verizon FiOS, Cablevision, Comcast, Cox Communications, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, and AT&T Uverse. MLB Network is not available on Mediacom.
MLB Network airs several live games a week. These games will be blacked out in the participating markets of the two teams (unless listed otherwise) Blacked out markets will receive an alternate game or programming.
In 2012, MLB Network aired its first ever postseason telecasts. The first telecast took place on October 7 and featured the Detroit Tigers hosting the Oakland Athletics at Comerica Park in Detroit for game two of the 2012 ALDS. Matt Vasgersian called the game alongside analyst Jim Kaat. The second telecast took place on October 10 and featured the Washington Nationals hosting the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. for game three of the 2012 NLDS; this was the Nationals first home postseason game since moving to Washington, D.C. at the start of the 2005 season. Bob Costas provided the play-by-play commentary alongside analyst Jim Kaat.
The channel also airs live and tape delayed Spring training games, simulcasted from one of the team's local TV rights holder's feed, or if not available, the spring training complex's internal scoreboard video feed with team radio network audio. These games are also subject to local blackouts.
The channel also carries live development league games, and occasionally live college and minor league games. In August 2009, they aired youth baseball championships, including the RBI World Series and the Cal Ripken World Series. It also airs some games of the Arizona Fall League including the championship.
In 2012, MLB Network took over the pre-game production responsibilities for the MLB on Fox package, producing Fox Saturday Baseball and postseason pre-game shows from Secaucus and on-location. The show features Matt Vasgersian or Greg Amsinger and two analysts from a rotating roster of MLB Network's personalities (Eric Byrnes, Kevin Millar, Dan Plesac, Harold Reynolds, Bill Ripken, or Mitch Williams).
MLB StrikeZone is a channel that launched on April 10, 2012 that allows viewers to see every game across MLB, with up-to-the-minute highlights, and live look-ins and updates, without commercials, in a similar format to NFL RedZone. The channel currently airs on Tuesday and Friday nights during the regular season. Dish Network, DirecTV, Time Warner Cable, and Bright House Networks are currently the only providers that offer the channel.
The Secaucus-based studios have two main sets, both named after famous players. "Studio 3", named in honor of Babe Ruth, serves as the home for all studio programs, while "Studio 42", honoring Jackie Robinson, is a half-scale baseball field where demonstrations by the network's analysts take place and Quick Pitch is presented, along with interview programs where an audience is needed for atmosphere. Studio 42 is also the home of the early rounds of the Major League Baseball Draft. The studio includes seating for over 125 people, along with elements such as a functioning manual scoreboard and a standings wall for each league and division.
With the launch of Intentional Talk in 2011, the hosts Chris Rose and Kevin Millar are not always available in the MLB Network studios. When this occurs, the show is usually shown as a split screen in which Chris Rose is at his house in Los Angeles, CA and Kevin hosts from his house in Austin, TX also known as "Studio 1-5".
On November 12, 2012, MLB Network introduced a third set, "Studio K", for the new daily morning offseason show, Hot Stove. During the premiere episode, hosts Matt Vasgersian and Harold Reynolds said that the studio was constructed from the building's mail room, explaining its small size.
The network had planned to launch permanent studios from a new tower in Manhattan's Harlem neighborhood by 2011. However, because of the 2008 financial crisis, the building project was scaled back and later canceled in late November 2008.
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