Major League Baseball and DIRECTV, the nation's leading satellite provider, announced a seven-year agreement that continues carriage rights to the MLB EXTRA INNINGS subscription package of out-of-market games and includes the launch of the MLB Channel as part of DIRECTV's basic package. Included within the agreement, DIRECTV will be a minority partner in the MLB Channel, and will work with MLB to develop the network, which will launch in 2009.
Additionally, in keeping with MLB's desire to provide as much MLB programming to as many baseball fans as possible, MLB and DIRECTV have agreed to include a provision that allows MLB EXTRA INNINGS to be offered to other incumbents—In Demand and DISH Network—at consistent rates and carriage requirements with a deal to be concluded before the baseball season begins. The provision also requires the incumbents to agree to carriage rights to the MLB Channel proportionally equivalent to DIRECTV's commitment. Should the incumbents decide not to match DIRECTV's commitment, the MLB EXTRA INNINGS package will be exclusive to DIRECTV. All out of market games continue to be available on MLB.com.
"With the advent of The MLB Channel, our new agreement with DIRECTV will result in more MLB programming being available to more fans than ever before," said Major League Baseball president Bob DuPuy. "The deal complements our deals with FOX, Turner and ESPN for network game coverage and furthers MLB's initiative to continue to enhance fans' viewing experience and reinvigorate our telecasts with unique and innovative features."
"Just as we did with NFL SUNDAY TICKET and NASCAR HOTPASS, DIRECTV will invest millions of dollars to deliver a spectacular fan experience," said Chase Carey, president and CEO of DIRECTV. "DIRECTV will offer more games in HD and apply its award-winning technology to MLB EXTRA INNINGS broadcasts on an unprecedented scale, taking fans deeper inside the game than ever before."
DIRECTV, continuing its 10-year relationship with MLB and its fans by providing MLB EXTRA INNINGS, will bring new innovations that will enhance the fan experience. The MLB Channel will be the first and only network dedicated to providing baseball programming to MLB fans 24 hours a day, seven days a week on a year-round basis.
DIRECTV will expand the MLB EXTRA INNINGS options to include a game mosaic channel, a Strike Zone Channel that takes viewers to live cut-ins of MLB games in progress at key points; detailed player and team stats, realtime scores and live updates from other games; and other innovations that complement the sport of baseball, entertain viewers and provide fans with a great entertainment value. Beginning in 2008, DIRECTV will provide most, if not all, of the package in High Definition.
Major League Baseball will continue to make available more games by far than any other sport on national and local over-the-air broadcast, basic cable, and satellite. On average, approximately 400 game telecasts are available in each market every season. Fans will continue to be able to watch their home club's games in their home markets. This agreement will not affect MLB's national agreements with FOX, TBS, and ESPN, nor does local game telecasts.
The MLB Channel will launch in 2009 on DIRECTV, ensuring that the Channel is immediately available as part of DIRECTV's basic service. DIRECTV's commitment to carry the Channel as a basic service to more than 15 million homes was a major factor in the long-term agreement between the provider and MLB.
"We are quite pleased with the commitment DIRECTV has made to MLB and our fans, and in the coming weeks will continue our efforts to secure corresponding commitments from our incumbent distributors," said Tim Brosnan, executive vice president/business, Major League Baseball.
Last year, more than half of the subscribers of MLB EXTRA INNINGS were DIRECTV customers. MLB.TV, MLB's broadband package, will continue to be available to all consumers through the Major League Baseball website, www.mlb.com
, offering upgraded picture quality this season.