Last week, Major League Baseball announced that Turner Broadcasting has agreed to cover the League Championship Series on an alternating-year basis with Fox Sports starting next season.
In an earlier announcement in July, TBS had already captured any regular-season tiebreaker games plus all Division Series games in both leagues. With these announcements, all the national agreements are all in place for baseball broadcasts through the 2013 season.
While the spinmasters tout the fact that TBS is a part of basic cable service in most systems, they overlook the 32% of American households without cable television. For those, it is a continuation of the loss of access to free national baseball telecasts.
Baseball fans with cable or satellite will see an impact, too. Instead of having to switch to FX for the inevitable conflicts between LDS games starting at the same time, in the future those games will roll over from TBS to TNT. And, the latter does not have the same coverage as its older sibling.
Also, in the first TBS deal, the addition of 26 Sunday afternoon regular season games was announced. This initially raised the question of whether or not the Saturday FOX blackouts we have grown to know and hate will increase by one more day each week. Fortunately, these new Sunday TBS games will not be exclusive.
However, the Fox Saturday weeks are increasing from 18 to 26 starting in 2007, meaning eight more weeks of possible blackouts on Saturdays.
Closer to home, rumors of future cuts from the 41 Cardinals games available in 2006 over the free airwaves on KPLR would then add to the increasing challenge of finding Cardinals broadcasts, especially on the weekends.
After all, starting next season, your favorite team’s game could be in one of at least seven different locations.
Regular season possibilities:
Monday, Wednesday – FSN Midwest or ESPN/ESPN2
Tuesday, Thursday, Friday – FSN Midwest
Saturday – KPLR or FSNM or Fox (afternoon)
Sunday – KPLR or FSNM or TBS (afternoon) or ESPN (night)
Post-season (through 2013):
NLDS – TBS/TNT
NLCS – TBS (odd years) / Fox (even years)
World Series - Fox
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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