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Mets To Play Ball on New Sports Net

Time Warner Cable, Comcast and the New York Mets unveiled details of their 24/7 regional sports network set to debut in the New York City area in spring 2006.

The venture, SportsNet New York, will telecast 125 regular season New York Mets baseball games next season. It will also carry the team’s pre-season and winter schedule games.

Next fall, the network will carry college football and basketball games, including Big East and Big 10 contests.

Comcast and Time Warner will carry SportsNet New York on basic tiers in New York City, New Jersey and Connecticut, parts of Pennsylvania and upstate New York. The channel is negotiating carriage agreements with Cablevision and satellite operators.

Mets games are currently seen on Cablevision’s MSG Networks, but the team’s deal expires at the end of this season. (The Mets paid $54 million in 2004 to exercise an option that allowed them to jump ship.) Last fall, Cablevision sued the Mets to prevent them from launching a network with Comcast and Time Warner, but a judge dismissed the suit in August 2005.

Cablevision and Time Warner share a rocky history of carriage negotiations. One dispute that began last summer left 2 million Mets fans unable to see the first games of this season. The dispute was settled in May.

Network President Jon Litner said SportsNet New York “will reach out to all New Yorkers and we will cover all of their teams and the events that are important to them.”

The program schedule will feature three nightly SportsNite shows, followed by a daily SportsRise morning show. Mr. Litner said he expects the network to take full advantage of the news-gathering resources available through other Comcast Sportsnet affiliates.

The network will be housed in the former CNN studios at the Time Life building in Manhattan. All programming originating from the studio will be shot exclusively in high definition. All Mets home games and some away games will be shot in HD.