MLB Network -- menace or godsend?


What better way to start the New Year than with a new cable station dedicated 24/7 to baseball? Hell, the debut this evening of the MLB Network even signifies the return of Hazel Mae. Sounds good.

During the run-up in recent weeks, MLB Network has been repeatedly screening highlights from the 2004 post-season -- catnip for N4N. My inability to tear myself away from repeated viewings led Mrs. N4N to call it too much of a good thing.

Yet the masterminds behind this have the revenue stream down cold, thanks to an instant infusion of 50 million cable viewers, and there are apparently enough other hopeless baseball cases to sustain viewership. From today's NYT:

To guarantee that it will have tens of millions of subscribers from Big Cable and satellite, baseball swapped a total of one-third of the network to Comcast, Time Warner, Cox and DirecTV, a solution that the National Football League has refused.

A major intent of the MLB Network is to feed fans who ostensibly can’t get enough baseball from local TV outlets, from ESPN, Fox and TBS, or from Web sites. Harold Reynolds, the best-known of the MLB Network’s corps of analysts, said when he began working at in 2007 that he recognized the rapid and continuous flow of news.

“I said, man, I’ve got to work year-round, every day on this because there’s something new all the time,” he said by telephone between rehearsals Wednesday. “It really opened my eyes. With the network, it’s 24-hour baseball; if you want to see baseball, it’s there, you don’t have to worry that it won’t be there.”

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