Fox Ponders Less Fall Baseball


Fox Sports Television Group Chairman and CEO David Hill says, if Fox continues to broadcast Major League Baseball’s first round of the playoffs, it may restrict coverage to weekend games. Reducing the baseball postseason interruption would leave Fox freer to join the new-fall-programming scrum with other networks.

“If we kept the Division Series,” Hill says, “it will just be two or three games of each series, such as just Friday nights, Saturdays and Sundays.”

Fox is talking to MLB about a renewal of its current broadcast-rights package, which runs through the end of the 2006 season. The package includes all baseball playoff games except some first-round, weekday games that ESPN shows. Those games were originally carried on Fox Family Channel but moved to Disney after it acquired the cable channel, which is now ABC Family.

Hill says Fox’s plans are still pending: He has not ruled out the network keeping the entire Division Series nor jettisoning it altogether and just airing the League Championship Series and World Series.

“That’s still open for debate,” he says. “If I had my way, we’d keep all the baseball. But we will end up sitting in a room with Peter Chernin and Peter Liguori [News Corp. president and Fox Entertainment president, respectively] and deciding: Would it be better or worse without baseball?” Kind of the way Cubs fans feel.