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MLB Network Readies for January Launch

Aug 31, 2008  •  Post A Comment

MLBWith a home plate-shaped border, the logo for the new Major League Baseball channel is designed to tell fans they have a new television home.
The MLB Network is in hurry-up mode because the channel launches in January. The completed logo and the selection of set designs, graphics and animations are signs that the channel is making progress, although there’s still a long way to go, according to President-CEO Tony Petitti.
He said he wants the network to look authentic, so it is drawing on images from live shoots, team uniforms and ballparks.
“It’s just a question of building everything out, but what it is going to look like, at least on paper, we can see that,” Mr. Petitti said.
He said the network also has some rough ideas about its programming plans. Those will be fleshed out over the next 60 days.
The channel, owned by Major League Baseball, is staffing up. It will have more than 30 people on board after Labor Day, and another 20 by the end of September, he said. A year from now, he expects to have 150 people working at the MLB Network, which is building a high-definition broadcast facility in MSNBC’s former quarters in Secaucus, N.J.
On-air talent also is being finalized.
“We’re getting close to being able to make a few announcements,” he said. “We’re getting a lot of interest.”
MLB Network has formed partnerships with major cable operators and satellite distributors and expects to launch with 50 million subscribers, by far the most ever by a new channel.
That should help make it attractive to advertisers, who are drawn to sports programming, as NBC proved during the just-concluded Beijing Summer Olympics.
“I think the more that sports in general can show it can attract large audiences, it makes the marketplace that much healthier. We’ve seen that the sports marketplace continues to do really well even in challenging times,” Mr. Petitti said. “What we’re going to do is try to create value for all the advertisers here in a lot of different ways and try to make them feel like they’re really part of the programming.”

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