On July 17, 1964, a game out of Los Angeles between the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers contest became the first Pay TV baseball game. Subscription television offered the cablecast to subscribers for money. (The Dodgers beat the Cubs by the score of 3–2, with Don Drysdale collecting 10 strikeouts.)
In the 1970s the cable revolution began. The Atlanta Braves became a power contender with greater revenues generated by WTBS, Ted Turner's Atlanta-based Superstation, that broadcast "America's Team" to cable households nationwide.
In 1980, 22 teams (all but the Atlanta Braves, Houston Astros, New York Mets, and St. Louis Cardinals) took part in a one-year cable deal with UA-Columbia (then owners of the USA Network). The deal involved the airing of a Thursday night Game of the Week in markets at least 50 miles (80 km) from a major league park. The deal earned Major League Baseball less than $500,000, but led to a new two-year contract for 40–45 games per season.
On January 5, 1989, Major League Baseball signed a $400 million deal with ESPN, who would show over 175 games in beginning in 1990. For the next four years, ESPN would televise six games a week (Sunday, Wednesday Night Baseball, doubleheaders on Tuesdays and Fridays, plus holidays).
NBC's Bob Costas believed that a large bulk of the regular season coverage beginning in the 1990s went to cable because CBS, the network that was taking over from NBC the television rights beginning in 1990, didn't really want the Saturday Game of the Week.
The roll out of ESPN, then Fox Sports changed sports news and particularly affected baseball. Potboiled down to the thirty-second game highlight, and now under the microscope of news organizations that needed to fill 24 hours of time, the amount of attention paid to major league players magnified to staggering levels from where it had been just 20 years prior. It brought with it increased attention for individual players, who reached superstar status nationwide on careers that often were not as compelling as those who had come before them in a less media intense time.
On April 15, 1990, ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball with the experienced Jon Miller and Joe Morgan debuted. In its first year, Sunday Night Baseball averaged a 3.0 rating. That was double the number that ESPN as a whole was averaging at the time (1.5). By 1998, ESPN enjoyed its largest baseball audience ever (a 9.5 Nielsen rating) as Mark McGwire hit his 61st home run of the season.
When ESPN first broadcast Sunday Night Baseball, they would show at least one game from every ballpark. Also, every team was guaranteed an appearance. It was essentially, the TV equivalent to a cross country stadium tour.
In 1994, ESPN renewed its baseball contract for six years (through the 1999 season). The new deal was worth $42.5 million per year and $255 million overall. The deal was ultimately voided after the 1995 season and ESPN was pretty much forced to restructure their contract.
When Major League Baseball opted to add an additional round of playoff action beginning in 1994, WTBS offered $40–$45 million/year for rights to another round of playoffs. Instead, the Division Series initially aired under the "Baseball Network" umbrella.
In 1996, ESPN began a five-year contract with Major League Baseball worth $440 million and about $80 million per year. ESPN paid for the rights to a Wednesday doubleheader and the Sunday night Game of the Week, as well as all postseason games not aired on FOX or NBC. Major League Baseball staggered the times of first-round games to provide a full-day feast for viewers: ESPN could air games at 1 p.m., 4 p.m., and 11 p.m. EDT, with the broadcast networks telecasting the prime time game.
Beginning in 1997, Fox entered a four-year joint venture with Liberty Media Cable worth $172 million. The deal called for two games a week that aired games on its choice of two weeknights other than Wednesday, with no exclusivity.
ESPN and ESPN2 had contracts (which were signed in 2000 and ran through 2005) to show selected weeknight and Sunday night games, along with selected Division Series playoff games. The contracts with ESPN were worth $141.8 million per year and $851 million overall. After Disney bought Fox Family (who from 2000–2001 aired Thursday night games) in 2002 to become ABC Family the Division Series games aired on ABC Family (with ESPN's announcers, graphics, and music) for one year. ESPN then added the extra playoff games and Thursday night package to its lineup.
The Fox Broadcasting Company's sister network FX aired numerous Major League Baseball contests on Saturday nights in 2001.
OLN was briefly considering picking up the rights to the Sunday and Wednesday games, which expired after the 2005 season. On September 14, 2005 however, ESPN, then the current rights holder, signed an eight-year contract with Major League Baseball, highlighted by the continuation of ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball series with additional, exclusive team appearances. The key details of the agreement were:
ESPN's Monday and Wednesday telecasts would be mostly nonexclusive, meaning the games also can be televised by each club's local broadcasters. Wednesday games will be blacked out in the teams' local markets (and anywhere their broadcasters reach), except if they would otherwise go untelevised. Monday games will usually see ESPN co-exist with local broadcasters. The Sunday games remain on ESPN only, and with ESPN gaining the rights to Monday Night Football telecasts, Sunday Night Baseball currently runs uninterrupted throughout the season.
The sport averages $296 million under the new agreement, a television and a baseball official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of a confidentiality agreement in the deal. ESPN paid baseball $273.5 million in 2006, increasing to $293.5 million in each of the following four years, $308.5 million in 2011 and $306 million in each of the final two seasons.
After weeks of speculation and rumors, on July 11, 2006 at the All-Star Game, Major League baseball announced that Time Warner's TBS will gain rights to a Sunday afternoon Game of the Week beginning in the 2008 season. TBS will be allowed to choose the games that it will carry and may select a single team up to 13 times. TBS also will gain exclusive broadcast rights to the Division Series in both leagues starting in 2007, as well as any tiebreakers starting with the 2007 season. On October 18, 2006, Major League Baseball announced that TBS will also carry the other League Championship Series. (Through the 2006 season, ESPN had national broadcast rights to tiebreakers, and ESPN and Fox shared coverage of the Division Series, with ESPN covering the majority of the games, while Fox was guaranteed the 8:00 p.m. Eastern slot most nights.) TBS also gained the rights to the All-Star Game Selection Show, formerly on ESPN.
As part of the agreement, the network also announced that it will no longer cover the Atlanta Braves on an exclusive national basis after the 2007 season. Games will be subject to blackout in the teams' markets, but local broadcasters can still air the games. TBS would carry 70 Braves games in the 2007 season, in addition to the postseason package, but beginning in 2008 will only carry the Sunday game on a national basis.
However, WTBS (now WPCH-TV) could still carry up to 45 games within the Braves' six-state geographical area (Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Mississippi). These games could conceivably air nationally as part of the MLB Extra Innings package.
On September 19, 2012, Sports Business Daily reported that Major League Baseball would agree to separate eight-year television deals with Fox Sports and Turner Sports through the 2021 season. Fox would reportedly pay around $4 billion over eight years (close to $500 million per year) while Turner would pay around $2.8 billion over eight years (more than $300 million per year). Under the new deals reported that Major League Baseball would agree to separate eight-year television deals, Fox and TBS' coverage would essentially be the same as in the 2007–2013 contract with the exception of Fox and TBS splitting coverage of the Division Series, which TBS has broadcast exclusively dating back to 2007. More importantly, Fox would carry some of the games (such as the Saturday afternoon Game of the Week) on its all-sports channel, Fox Sports 1, which launched on August 17, 2013., Sources also said it was possible that Fox would sell some League Division Series games to MLB Network.
The following table shows viewership for regular season.
|Year||Channel (viewers)||Channel (viewers)||Channel (viewers)||Ref|
|2013||FOX (2.4m)||ESPN (1.1m)||TBS|||
|2014||FOX (1.9m)||ESPN (1.1m)||TBS|||
|2015||FOX (2.2m)||ESPN (1.2m)||TBS|||
Joe Allen Simpson (born December 31, 1951) is a former Major League Baseball player, and has been a radio and television broadcaster for the Atlanta Braves since 1992.Major League Baseball on regional sports networks
Major League Baseball games not broadcast exclusively by its media partners are televised by regional sports networks, which present sports programming of interest to their respective region. Most MLB broadcasters are members of chains such as NBC Sports Regional Networks, Fox Sports Networks, and AT&T SportsNet, although several teams are broadcast by regional networks that are independent of these chains. Some teams own partial or majority stakes in their regional broadcaster.
Regionally broadcast MLB games are subject to blackouts; games from outside of a viewer's designated market are blacked out to protect the local team.Norm Hitzges
Norman Richard "Norm" Hitzges (born July 5, 1944) is an author and sports talk radio host at KTCK (1310 AM / 96.7 FM, "SportsRadio 1310 The Ticket") in Dallas, and a Texas Radio Hall of Fame member. Hitzges pioneered radio sports talk in the morning at KLIF radio at a time when sports talk was mainly on in the evening. Hitzges moved to (former rival) KTCK in early 2000 after 15 years at sister station KLIF when the latter removed sports talk programming from its lineup. Hitzges also serves as the television play-by-play voice of the Dallas Sidekicks.He has also provided major league baseball commentary for ESPN. Hitzges is known for his enthusiasm and knowledge of sports trivia and has been compared to Dick Vitale for his energy and love of sports. Hitzges has been honored by the Dallas All Sports Association and the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame.Hitzges also hosts "Norm-A-Thon", a yearly 18-hour marathon broadcast to raise money for the Austin Street Center, a Dallas area homeless shelter. Hitzges has also been a long-time supporter of Texans! Can Academy, an organization that provides at-risk youths with education and training.
Weekly segments on his show include “The Birdhouse,” “Shuttle Run,” “The Meatheads of the Week,” and “The Weekend-around.”
Since 2010, Hitzges and his wife have lived in the Dallas suburb of Little Elm, Texas.USA Thursday Game of the Week
The USA Thursday Game of the Week is a former television program that broadcast Major League Baseball games on the USA Network. The network no longer airs sporting events. Sister network NBC Sports Network is the primary cable outlet of NBC Sports.