TBS Steps To Plate For MLB Playoffs

TBS will pitch to baseball fans a comprehensive package of on-air and online coverage of Major League Baseball’s divisional playoff series, beginning Oct. 3.

On-air, TBS’s coverage of the four divisional playoff series will be buttressed by extensive pre- and post-game shows and will feature an roster of veteran baseball announcers such as Atlanta Braves play-by-play man Chip Caray, veteran sports announcer Dick Stockton, and MLB Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn.

As part of the first year of a seven-year deal, carrying an estimated annual rights fees of $70 million, TBS will also present the National League Championship Series, and beginning next season, a slate of Sunday afternoon regular-season contests. 

For its part, MLB playoff incumbent Fox retains the rights this season to the American League Championship Series and the World Series. Through 2013, the networks will alternate their coverage of the LCS, with Fox presenting the World Series to conclude each season.

Online, the TBS Hot Corner site will offer live dugout look-ins, pre-game batting practice coverage, a live trivia game and other baseball-related video content, according to Peter Scott, executive interactive producer for Turner Sports New Media.

“The combination of Turner Sports’ three-decade experience of [National Basketball Association] playoffs on Turner Network Television and our baseball pedigree of 30-years with the Braves with the first ever true broadband experience during the MLB post- season from a television carrier with our Hot Corner will be of great value to fans,” added TBS Sports senior producer Howard Zalkowitz.

The network will bookend each day of its MLB playoffs coverage with a pre-game show and post-game show hosted by Inside NBA  personality Ernie Johnson, said Zalkowitz. TBS sister service TNT will carry any games that overlap TBS’ coverage. But any coverage on TNT, will eventually switch back to TBS, according to network officials.

“I think that between the studio and remote, the viewer will get a full day of baseball that will enhance the storylines and do justice to the drama that will unfold,” Zalkowitz added.

The aforementioned announcers will be joined on the TBS roster by veteran baseball play-by-play men Ted Robinson, who has worked San Francisco Giants and New York Mets games, not to mention his tennis duties for NBC and USA Network; Don Orsillo, who is on the Boston Red Sox beat for regional sports service NESN; Joe Simpson, TBS’s long-time Atlanta Braves analyst; Bob Brenly, who’s with WGN, after turns at Fox and as the manager of the 2001 World Champion Arizona Diamondbacks; and former MLBer Steve Stone, whose resume includes entries at both ESPN and WGN

On the Web front, TBS’s Hot Corner broadband video service, which launched Sept. 10, will for the first time give fans a live video broadband presence for baseball’s playoffs, according to Scott.

As part of its post-season coverage, TBS will stream live the batting practice sessions of every playoff team. Once the games begin, TBS will feature a live stream from each team’s dugout, he said.

In addition, the site will offer a live studio show that will feature cameo appearances from celebrities, coaches, players or scouts attending the game.

Gwynn, along with fellow 2007 Hall of Fame inductee Cal Ripken, Jr., will also give their insights and perspectives on the game itself and the playoffs as part of another feature page.

Currently, the site is offering daily video segments dubbed Hot Corner Daily, which provides updates on the pennant races. Another area, Off Base Daily, proffers candid interviews with today’s baseball stars.

The site also offers video snippets from actress and baseball aficionado Alyssa Milano, who will give a behind the scenes look at ballparks like Dodger Stadium, as well as interview players.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.