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Baseball TV Contract


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As you no doubt know, Monday Night Football is moving to ESPN in 2006. Indeed, ABC will probably broadcast its last NFL game in February. If I'm not mistaken, baseball's current broadcast contract with FOX expires in October of next year. It seems to me that ESPN could perhaps negotiate a deal with baseball along the lines of its arrangement with the NBA, i.e. purchase the rights and then 'pay' ABC to air select games. The new arrangement (as I would like to see it):

In 2007, FOX would air FOX Saturday Baseball, select Division Series games, and the American League Championship Series; ABC would air Monday Night Baseball (Al Michaels in the booth, of course), the All Star Game, select DS games, the NLCS, and the World Series. In 2008, FOX would get the ASG and WS. Every two years, they would alternate between the ALCS and NLCS.

This is, of course, unlikely to happen. However, the people at ABC should think about what will happen to their prime time line up if their only major sports property is the NBA (which I hear is not pleased with ABC's coverage). Any thoughts?

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Baseball on ABC? As a diehard NBA fan, I wouldn't wish that on you guys at all. FOX is bad enough, but ABC probably wouldn't even promote the games. Here's what needs to happen, my friend.

NBC has already gotten the rights to the NFL back. That's one. Next, NBC needs to get baseball back in 2007. And after that, NBC needs to get basketball back in 2008.

ABC and FOX are awful at covering their sports. ABC doesn't promote the NBA, doesn't care about the NBA, and that's the main reason why the league's ratings are down. Say what you will about the players, but the NBA Final ratings had never dipped below double digits on NBC. The first year on ABC? A 6.5. This past year? An 8.2. Interest may have waned, but to such a drastic degree in merely four years?

FOX uses baseball as a way to promote their crappy shows come the fall. It's disgusting to see some of the great baseball moments in the past couple of years marred by an ad for 'The Rebel Billionaire' in the background. Not only that, but they insist on keeping the incessantly vapid Tim McCarver and the incessantly annoying Jeannie Zelasko. The ratings haven't dropped as far as the NBA's has, due to a lot of luck in the past couple of years (Yankees-Red Sox twice in a row, two straight years of both LCS going 7 games), but let's face it. If NBC had been airing last year's World Series, with the Sox beating the Cardinals, ratings wouldn't have been at a 15. They would've been at a 20. Same thing with the NBA - that Pistons-Lakers finals in 2004 would've gotten much higher ratings than an 11 on NBC.

What NBC did was treat the sports with respect. When watching the NBA Finals, you never got the feeling that the lead broadcaster didn't want to be there. Watching ABC, you know that Al 'money' Michaels doesn't want to be there. He's only doing it for the extra millions Disney shells out to him. And, while FOX spends their time using the playoffs to air ads for their next new (and quickly cancelled) series, they spend little time on actual game production. Bells and whistles are nice, but accurate and understandable replays are better.

Now, don't get me wrong. NBC hardly aired any regular season baseball games when they had the contract. And in terms of dedication to airing the games, FOX is better. But, in terms of the ACTUAL game, NBC blows them out of the water. Meanwhile, ABC isn't dedicated at all to the NBA, whereas NBC treated it like gold.

The best sports contract would be this:

For Baseball - (Monday Night Baseball on network TV could end up as a ratings disaster; I don't think any network would take a chance on regular season sports, sans NFL, in primetime) NBC would get a baseball doubleheader on opening day, followed by Saturday afternoon games every week of the season from May on. Come the playoffs, NBC would split Division Series games with corporate parter USA Network, and air every game of both League Championship Series and the World Series.

For the NBA - The same deal NBC had with the league from 1991-2002. David Stern was too blind to see how perfect that was.

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I'm guessing FOX will end up keeping Baseball.

I also remember reading somewhere that MLB is planning on making a digital cable channel that would be all-baseball all the time.

So here's what I'm guessing:

Regular season: ESPN (some weekday nights), FOX (Saturday games), MLB Network (other Weekday games that probably would involve smaller markets that people on FOX and ESPN wouldn't be likely to see due to demographic-based programming that basically means all-Major Cities all the time), local channels (FSN, CSN, YES, MASN...... you get the idea).

Post-season: ESPN (select division series games), FOX (Division, League and World Series).

All-Star game: FOX

World Baseball Classic and other miscellanous: ESPN, TBS and MLB Network.

I don't like Fox (except for Joe Buck, he'd be great if he didn't need to cater to advertisers and the network), but I'm guessing they will keep it.

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ease off joe buck guys he's one of the most knowlegeble baseball people in the booth and i dont see whats so wrong with him giving his dad credit for getting him to where he is today. now as far as joe buck doing football....i will admit thats still a little foreign to me.

i say at the very least please bring back bob costas and joe morgan on nbc for playoff baseball.

and the nba is hopeless no matter what network its on...the league has lost all integrity. you may as well watch high school basketball its about the same quality. probably because the players are in the same age bracket.

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All he ever does is shill for every damn Fox show.

That's because it's in his contract. Knowing his knowledge for the game, and if he didn't have to promote anything that FOX gave him he would be 10x better than what he is right now.

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I kinda liked "The Baseball Network" idea back in 1994 and 1995. Have two networks show games during the summer and then add Fox for Saturday. So here's my idea:

Fox:

Saturday Game of the Week

ABC:

Baseball Network Monday Night

NBC:

Baseball Network Thursday Night

ESPN:

Sunday Night Baseball Game of the Week

Wednesday Night Baseball (Doubleheader)

Tuesday Night Baseball

Thursday Day Game

If you want baseball, by all means here ya go. As for the postseason and ASG.

DIVISION SERIES:

All 4 networks get 1 Division Series, each network will show at least 3 of the 4 series (so that way everyone gets in on the [insert AL East Champs series here, to share the drooling TV ratings])

LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES:

The network that will show the All-Star Game and World Series will not show any LCS games.

WORLD SERIES:

On a rotated basis, and a package deal with the All-Star Game.

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and the nba is hopeless no matter what network its on...the league has lost all integrity. you may as well watch high school basketball its about the same quality. probably because the players are in the same age bracket.

Obviously, you don't watch the NBA. Going off on a tangent just a little... it's amusing how so many people complain about the lack of fundamentals in the NBA, then when the Spurs and Pistons - two teams that play 'the right way' - play each other in the finals, they don't watch. In fact, they say it's boring basketball. Can someone explain that for me, or is it just one of those enigmas that'll never be solved?

Fox:

Saturday Game of the Week

ABC:

Baseball Network Monday Night

NBC:

Baseball Network Thursday Night

ESPN:

Sunday Night Baseball Game of the Week

Wednesday Night Baseball (Doubleheader)

Tuesday Night Baseball

Thursday Day Game

If you want baseball, by all means here ya go. As for the postseason and ASG.

DIVISION SERIES:

All 4 networks get 1 Division Series, each network will show at least 3 of the 4 series (so that way everyone gets in on the [insert AL East Champs series here, to share the drooling TV ratings])

LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES:

The network that will show the All-Star Game and World Series will not show any LCS games.

WORLD SERIES:

On a rotated basis, and a package deal with the All-Star Game.

A little too complicated. Let's see if I can polish it up just a little...

ABC

American League Saturday Afternoon Games (1-4 PM in all time zones)

NBC

National League Saturday Afternoon Games (1-4 PM in all time zones)

FOX

Exclusive Saturday Night Game of the Week (8-11 PM EST)

ESPN

Sunday Night Game

Wednesday Night Game

Friday Night Game

That's a little bit less complicated. That way, people know that on Saturdays from 1-4, they can watch NBC or ABC for baseball, and come eight, they can watch FOX for the game of the week. And all of it takes place on "Baseball Saturday".

Come playoff time:

(Over six years, starting in 2007)

NBC - Gets the NL Division Series and the NL Championship Series every year; also gets the World Series in 2008 and 2010

ABC - Gets the AL Division Series and the AL Championship Series every year; also gets the World Series in 2009 and 2011

FOX - Gets the World Series in 2007 and 2009; also gets exclusive Opening Day Baseball coverage and the All Star Game every year of the deal

(And, if you really want to maximize the deal, replace FOX with CBS.)

P.S., and, for the play-by-play packages:

NBC - Bob Costas, Al Leiter

ABC - Jon Miller, Joe Morgan (keep Michaels on Football ONLY)

FOX - Joe Buck, Bob Brenly

and, if you're going to replace FOX with CBS...

CBS - Greg Gumbel (who'll be 60 soon) and Bob Brenly

P.P.S., for more info on the history of MLB on TV, go to wikipedia.org's comprehensive page on Baseball TV History.

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