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Verizon Swings MLB Deal

Major League Baseball and Verizon announced multiyear agreements Monday under which FiOS TV will carry MLB Network and the league’s Extra Innings out-of-market package.

The deal for MLB Network, to launch Jan. 1, 2009, brings its distribution to approximately 50 million homes on TV systems across the country, which the league claimed is the largest launch in cable history.

MLB Network will be available to all FiOS TV customers as part of the Essentials and Extreme HD packages on channel 86. Verizon also will offer an HD simulcast of the MLB Network on channel 586.

In addition, Verizon will offer the MLB Extra Innings package with up to 80 out-of-market games per week. The MLB Extra Innings agreement is subject to ratification by the MLB clubs.

Verizon had been hoping to begin offering Extra Innings sometime in the 2008 season.

Verizon had 1.6 million FiOS TV customers as of the end of the third quarter. The TV service is currently available to 8.2 million homes in 14 states.