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MLB Network Pushes Distribution Base Past 71 Million Homes

MLB Network has been busy in the off-season, building its subscriber base and bolstering the lineup for its ad hoc scoring network.

MLB Network Strike Zone, the commercial-free, highlights-focused channel, will take its first swings of the 2013 season on April 5 at 7 p.m. The service, taking viewers around MLB, will air on Tuesdays and Friday nights. When live game telecasts air on MLB Network, MLB Network Strike Zone will give fans access to every game across the league, with up-to-the-minute highlights, live look-ins and updates.

Launched last season on Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, DirecTV and Dish, MLB Network Strike Zone will also be available on Consolidated Communications, OpenBand and SureWest Communications in 2013.  Google Fiber will add MLB Network Strike Zone when it debuts its sports package later this year.

MLB Network, meanwhile, raised its subscriber roster to some 71 million homes by adding a host of new affiliates: Litestream, Bernard Communications, Telapex, BEK Communications, Treasure Lake Communications. BR Cablevision,Community Fiber Solutions, Delhi Telephone Co., Pinpoint Communications, Hydaburg Cable TV, Craig Cable TV, F&B Communications, Alliance Communications, Concept Cable TV, Valley Telecommunications, Colo Telephone Co. and Marquette-Adams Communications.

Subscribers to new and existing affiliates will get to see MLB Network’s 15 live hours of Opening Day coverage on April 1, including a sneak peek of new studio show MLB Now, with Brian Kenny, host of Clubhouse Confidential, and analyst Harold Reynolds at 8 p.m. (ET) and on Tuesday, April 2 at 6 p.m. Starting Wednesday, April 3, MLB Now, which trades on Kenny’s analytical acumen versus the views of the 12-year MLB veteran Reynolds about league news, managerial decisions and discussions about players’ short- and long-term contract values, will assume its regular time slot in the 4 p.m. hour. The program will also feature guests and interactive polling segments.

MLB Network’s live game schedule begins with the Tampa Bay Rays’ home opener against the Baltimore Orioles on April 2 at 3 p.m. The service’s first MLB Network Showcase production features the World Series champion San Francisco Giants at the Los Angeles Dodgers, called by Bob Costas, Jim Kaat and Sam Ryan,  at 10 p.m. The remainder of MLB Network’s April game schedule, including five Showcase contests in bold, is available here.