In Depth

Petitti Confirmed as President-CEO of MLB Network

Tony Petitti was officially named president and CEO of the new cable channel being created by Major League Baseball.

Mr. Petitti, who had been executive VP and executive producer of CBS Sports, said during a conference call Thursday, “This network will be a great showcase for Major League Baseball.”

With the network planning to launch in January, he said he would be moving quickly to staff up in areas including production, programming, sales and affiliate relations.

“We’re trying to capture the spirit of what’s happening in baseball on a daily basis,” he said. “It will be built not only for fans, but for the players, and will rely on both the archives of the tradition-laden national pastime as well as the new game programming that’s created every season.

“I’m confident there will be more than enough content to program this network,” he said.

After a squabble with cable operators over the possibility of putting its out-of-market game package exclusively on DirecTV, major cable operators made a deal with Major League Baseball that gives them access to the out-of-market package and a stake in the new channel. As a result, MLB Network is expected to launch with a record 50 million cable and satellite homes.

MLB Network is expected to air 26 live games a year. It will have to generate more programming to fill a 24-hour daily schedule 12 months a year.

Mr. Petitti is technically the second employee of the MLB Network. It already has a former NBC engineer working at what will be its broadcast center in Secaucus, N.J.

But baseball officials say the channel has already started warming up.

“There are many people here at Major League Baseball who have been working on this nonstop for the better part of 12 months,” said Tim Brosnan, executive VP of business for MLB.

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said Mr. Petitti’s name surfaced as part of a search process that moved quickly.

“In the end, we had only one candidate, and fortunately it worked out,” said Mr. Selig.