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MLB Network Previews New Station, Programming

Related: MLB Network Adds Leiter, Reynolds To Team

As Major League Baseball’s first 24-hour channel, MLB Network is set to launch at the start of the New Year with big plans for its on- and off-season programming.

MLB Network is set to have 1,400 hours of live shows, led by MLB Tonight, running six to seven hours per night during the season.

In-season the network will carry mostly live programming, coving stories across the entire league, while the off-season will deal more with archived material.

Its new Hot Stove show will air five nights a week to catch fans up on scores and highlights.
30 Clubs in 30 Days, a special which will air during team’s spring training sessions, will feature a different club during each of the thirty days, focusing on the up-coming season and the status of the teams and their players.

The 50 million-homes launch figure stated by the network is now slightly higher than its initial release, due to system’s counts differing because of different subscriber times, according to Tony Petitti, President and Chief Executive Officer, MLB, during a conference call Wednesday. They did not release the exact figures.

Competition in the world of televised sports is pretty steep, yet the MLB Network remains confident that it’s already one step ahead of the game.

“Being able to bounce from game to game…we’ll be able to be pretty flexible…despite some restrictions,” added Petitti.

Twenty-six regular season telecasts are lined-up for showing during the off-season, such as Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees games, which will be blacked out in local markets.

Alternate programming will be provided in place of these games in their local areas.

Material from the MLB archives will also be used for off-season programming. The MLB Network plans to create a series of the greatest baseball seasons of all time, covering the years that highlight the best on- and off-the field events simultaneously.

The network’s plans to extend and explore in different directions includes covering spring training games, the Arizona Fall League, and the Caribbean World Series, as well as international play.

Al Leiter, a studio analyst, will continue to work with the YES Network in addition to his new position at the MLB Network.

“Both opportunities and jobs coexist,” he said. “It’s just a matter of scheduling. My plan is to do both, with the Yankees right there in New York and the studio right there in New Jersey.”

Despite launching in a not-so-easy time for even the established sports networks, the MLB Network is surprisingly confident that it will rise above and do well from the start.

“This is about serving the fan. I don’t think there’s a better vehicle right now in sports to do what we’re doing. It’s time for baseball to have a 24-hour network,” Harold Reynolds, studio analyst, MLB Network said in a statement during a conference call Wednesday.

“I think the possibilities could be endless on how we cover the sport,” Leiter added.

“All these people [on our network] have great versatility,” Petitti said. “I don’t think people have seen this before, the way we cover the game.”