MLB Network is yet to launch (it makes its debut in approximately 50 million homes January 1), but the network is already planning for the future. MLB Network president and CEO Tony Pettiti says the network will consider throwing its hat into the ring once playoff packages become available.
“We want to be ready to take on anything. Five years from now when those deals come up, we would love to be considered as a viable alternative,” Pettiti says. “Our distribution would need to grow some, but production-wise and programming-wise we are more than ready for that.”
Of course, MLB Network’s immediate priorities are on building its programming lineup and live games coverage.
The network has rights to games on Thursday nights, and will run 26 games throughout the season. Pettiti says the network will focus on what it thinks are good games and rivalries early in the season, with a focus on more important games later on.
“Once we get to the backend of the season we will do a good job following the playoff chase,” Pettiti says.
MLB Network will select its games about 10 days before they air, as well as alternate games that will be telecast in the local markets so there are no blackouts.
The signature studio shows will be MLBHot Stove during the offseason and MLBTonight once the season gets under way. MLB Tonight will start at 6 p.m. and run until the last game is over Monday through Saturday. MLB Network will have rights that include live “peek-ins” to games in progress. So if a player is on the brink of 500 home runs, or if there is a close game happening, they can cut to the action.
The first game airing on the network will be Don Larsen’s 1956 World Series perfect game. MLB network acquired the copy from a collector, and is running it intact, including the original commercials which feature some surprising athlete endorsements.
The network is also prepping its two studios, which will feature cutting edge technology including a touch screen from Perceptive Pixel, the company behind CNN’s “magic wall,” and a half-size baseball field that will be used for demonstrations by MLB Network talent.
The technology is also extending beyond the studio. MLB Network says it will have two robotic cameras at every MLB stadium which can be operated from its control room in Secaucus, N.J.