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ESPN Major League Baseball is a promotion of Major League Baseball on ESPN and ESPN2, with simulcasts on ESPNHD or ESPN2HD. Major League Baseball on ESPN debuted on April 15, 1990 with Sunday Night Baseball, ESPN Major League Baseball is guaranteed to remain on air until 2013.

The title is derived from the fact that it may come on a night when ESPN doesn't have a scheduled game (i.e. Tuesday, Friday, or Saturday). The different weekly regular season games that ESPN has is (as of 2007): Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell, Monday Night Baseball presented by Bank of America and Wednesday Night Baseball presented by Goodyear, and formerly ESPN DayGame presented by Fruit of the Loom and Thursday Night Baseball powered by Castrol.

In addition to regular season games, ESPN also airs 10 spring training games entitled ESPN Spring Training and formerly aired Division Series playoff games entitled The Division Series on ESPN. ESPN also airs an emmy award winning daily highlight show called Baseball Tonight at 10 p.m. ET and 12 a.m. ET.

HistoryEdit

1990Edit

On January 5, 1989, Major League Baseball signed a $400 million deal with ESPN, who would show over 175 games beginning in 1990. For the next four years, ESPN would televise six games a week (Sunday, Wednesday Night Baseball, doubleheaders on Tuesdays and Fridays, plus holidays).

On April 15, 1990, ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball with the experienced play-by-play broadcaster Jon Miller and Joe Morgan debuted. In its first year, Sunday Night Baseball averaged a 3.0 rating. That was double the number that ESPN as a whole was averaging at the time (1.5). By 1998, ESPN enjoyed its largest baseball audience ever (a 9.5 Nielsen rating) as Mark McGwire hit his 61st home run of the season.

When ESPN first broadcasted Sunday Night Baseball, they would show at least one game from every ballpark. Also, every team was guaranteed an appearance. It was essentially, the television equivalent to a cross country stadium tour.

1994Edit

In 1994, ESPN renewed its baseball contract for six years (through the 1999 season). The new deal was worth $42.5 million per year and $255 million overall. The deal was ultimately voided after the 1995 season and ESPN was pretty much forced to restructure their contract.

1996Edit

In 1996, ESPN began a five year contract with Major League Baseball worth $440 million and about $80 million per year. ESPN paid for the rights to a Wednesday night doubleheader and Sunday Night Baseball, as well as holiday telecasts and all postseason games not aired on FOX or NBC. Major League Baseball staggered the times of first-round games to provide a full-day feast for viewers: ESPN could air games at 1 p.m., 4 p.m., and 11 p.m. EDT, with the broadcast networks telecasting the prime time game.

2000Edit

ESPN and ESPN2 had contracts (which were signed in 2000 and ran through 2005) to show selected weeknight and Sunday Night Baseball games, along with selected Division Series playoff games. The contracts with ESPN were worth $141.8 million per year and $851 million overall.

2001Edit

After Disney bought Fox Family (who from 2000-2001 aired Thursday night games) in 2002 to become ABC Family the Division Series games aired on ABC Family (with ESPN's announcers, graphics, and music) for one year. ESPN then added these games, along with the Thursday night games (subsequently shifted to weekday afternoon "DayGame" broadcasts), to its package.

2005Edit

OLN[1] was briefly considering picking up the rights to the Sunday and Wednesday games, which expired after the 2005 season. On September 14, 2005 however, ESPN, then the current rights holder, signed an eight year contract with Major League Baseball, highlighted by the continuation of ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball series with additional, exclusive team appearances. The key details of the agreement were:

  • Up to 80 regular-season telecasts per year;
  • No blackout restrictions on exclusive Sunday Night Baseball; Monday Night Baseball, with ESPN mostly coexisting with local carriers
  • Up to five appearances per team per year on the exclusive Sunday Night Baseball series, up from 11 over three years;
  • Daily Baseball Tonight programs – one of ESPN's most popular series -- including the continued right to show in-progress highlights and live cut-ins;
  • Home Run Derby, ESPN's highest-rated program of the summer and one of cable's best, and additional All-Star programming;
  • Continuation of season-long Wednesday baseball on ESPN and ESPN2;
  • A new afternoon batting practice program, generally from the site of ESPN's Monday night telecast, debuting in 2007;
  • For the first time, the 11 p.m. ET SportsCenter will present a nightly Baseball Tonight update featuring in-progress highlights;
  • Select games and MLB All-Star events on ESPN2 throughout the season;
  • 10 spring training games and MLB Opening Day coverage;
  • Telecast rights for ESPNHD, ESPN2HD, ESPN Deportes and ESPN International;
  • Ability to include Major League Baseball programming as part of the delivery of the ESPN networks via cable, satellite and other new or developing technologies, such as cell phones and wireless devices;
  • Archival footage and game programming and "Instant Classic" rights for ESPN Classic.
  • ESPN Radio also maintains exclusive terrestrial rights.

The weekday afternoon "DayGame" telecasts (as well as double- and tripleheader coverage of Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day games) that ESPN and ESPN2 had previously aired were eliminated in the new pact, as was the late (10 p.m. ET) Wednesday night game.

ESPN's Monday and Wednesday telecasts remain mostly nonexclusive, meaning the games also can be televised by each club's local broadcasters. In fact, Wednesday games are blacked out on ESPN unless a participating team's local broadcaster does not choose to televise the game. The Sunday games remain on ESPN only, and with ESPN gaining the rights to Monday Night Football telecasts, it looks likely that Sunday Night Baseball will run uninterrupted on ESPN throughout the season, except on Opening Night (when it will air on ESPN2, since it usually conflicts with the NCAA Women's Basketball Final Four).

Alternate telecasts for home-team markets which are blacked out have also been phased out, either in an effort to save costs or in an effort to allocate more satellite space for high-definition broadcasts on ESPNHD. Those who get ESPN via cable get ESPNEWS instead, and those who get the channel via satellite see a blank picture and a blackout notice.

The sport will average $296 million under the new agreement, a television and a baseball official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of a confidentiality agreement in the deal. ESPN will pay baseball $273.5 million in 2006, $293.5 million in each of the following four years, $308.5 million in 2011 and $306 million in each of the final two seasons.

2006Edit

On July 25, 2006, Harold Reynolds was fired from ESPN. The ESPN spokeswoman confirmed that Reynolds "is no longer with the network" but did not give a reason for the departure.[2] "Three people who work at ESPN and familiar with the case said the cause was a pattern of sexual harassment."[3] Reynolds confirmed that an accusation of sexual harassment was the reason for his departure but called it "a total misunderstanding" and that "I gave a woman a hug and I felt like it was misinterpreted. [4]

More turmoil came weeks later, when Peter Gammons was sidelined with a brain aneurysm. Gammons returned to ESPN in early September.

ESPN telecasts in 2006, posted an average of 1,115,000 household impressions, up 27% when compared to 2005's 875,000. The corresponding 1.2 rating this year marks a 20% increase over the 1.0 average in 2005. ESPN2's baseball telecasts have averaged 704,000 households, an increase of 34% over 2005's 525,000. Ratings on ESPN2 went up 33% (0.8 vs. 0.6).

After the 2006 Division Series, ESPN lost the rights to broadcast playoff games on TV. All postseason games, from possible one-game playoffs to the World Series, will air on FOX Sports and TBS beginning in 2007. Games will remain on ESPN Radio. ESPN also lost rights to ESPN DayGame presented by Fruit of the Loom and Thursday Night Baseball powered by Castrol.

2007Edit

Because of the reduction of ESPN's weekly schedule from five games to three, ESPN released numerous commentators from the network, including Jeff Brantley, Tino Martinez, Steve Stone and Eric Karros.

With the new deal coming into play this year, several things changed with the Monday and Wednesday night games in particular. For Monday Night Baseball, the telecast will now co-exist with the local carrier this year and teams will now be able to appear on the telecast up to three times a year, up from two times last year. Wednesday Night Baseball also had a major change to it. Now, in addition to the featured game that night, they will also have live cut-ins to other games across the nation and discuss some the hot topics in the major leagues.

On April 1, for the season-opening game between the New York Mets and the St. Louis Cardinals, ESPN changed its on-screen graphics to the version that debuted with Monday Night Football in 2006 and was later adopted by its NBA coverage. The previous graphics dated back to the advent of ESPN HD in 2004.

During the week of the All-Star Game, Baseball Tonight and SportsCenter did not travel to the game site as it normally does; the 2007 site was AT&T Park in San Francisco. The reason was that MLB stripped ESPN of its on-site credentials for its studio crew as punishment for leaking the rosters of the All-Star teams before TBS did. TBS' announcement, which was billed as exclusive, was scheduled for 4 p.m. Eastern time but was delayed for nearly two hours, by which point ESPN, in apparent violation of its contract with MLB, went ahead and revealed the rosters anyway.[5]

Template:See also

TechnologyEdit

Template:See also

File:Espnmlbkzone1.jpg

Through the years, ESPN has enhanced its Major League Baseball coverage with the introduction and implementation of innovative technology. Which include:

  • April 1995- ESPN debuted in-game box scores during Major League Baseball telecasts. Hitting, pitching and fielding stats from the game are shown along the bottom of the screen three times per game.
  • April 15, 2001- ESPN Dead Center debuted on Sunday Night Baseball with Texas vs. Oakland. This new camera angle, directly behind the pitcher, is used provide true depiction of inside/outside pitch location and is used in certain parks in conjunction with K Zone.
  • April 7, 2002- ESPN became the first network to place a microphone on a player during a regular-season baseball game. "Player Mic" was worn by Oakland catcher Ramon Hernandez (who also wore "MaskCam") and taped segments were heard.
  • April 10, 2005- "SkyCam" premiered during Sunday Night Baseball. "SkyCam" is mounted more than 20 feet above the stands in foul territory and travels down a designated base path (first or third base line, from behind home plate to the foul pole), capturing overhead views of the action. The remote-controlled camera can zoom, pan and tilt.
  • April 2, 2006- A handheld camera brings viewers closer to the action for in-game live shots of home run celebrations, managers approaching the mound and more.

PersonalitiesEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. http://www.examiner.com/a-101428~Jim_Williams__Quest_for_Nats_on_television_continues.html
  2. "Reynolds out at ESPN", Associated Press, 2006-07-25. Retrieved on 2006-07-25. 
  3. "ESPN's Reynolds let go over sexual harassment", 2006-07-26. Retrieved on 2006-07-26. 
  4. Marchand, Andrew. "ACCUSED OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT: REYNOLDS WANTS ESPN JOB BACK", New York Post, 2006-07-26. Retrieved on 2006-07-26. Archived from the original on 2006-08-19. 
  5. http://web.archive.org/web/20090415161143/http://www.latimes.com/sports/custom/extras/la-spw-tvcol13jul13,1,320009.column?coll=la-sports-extras
  1. MLB on ESPN 2004 Press Kit
  2. MLB on ESPN Technology Through the Years
  3. MLB on ESPN 2005 Press Kit
  4. Major League Baseball, ESPN reach new eight-year television agreement
  5. Baseball on ESPN Oficial site
  6. MLB on ESPN 2006 Press Kit
  7. ESPN AND MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL REACH EIGHT-YEAR REGULAR-SEASON DEAL THROUGH 2013
  8. GAMMONS JOINS SUNDAY NIGHT BASEBALL
  9. Major League Baseball on cable television
  10. ESPN MLB Technology through the years
  11. Press Release: ESPN’s Signature MLB Franchises Return - Sunday, Monday and Wednesday Night Baseball

External linksEdit

Template:Major League baseball on national television

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