|Broadcast area||United States|
|Headquarters||One MLB Network Plaza,|
Secaucus, New Jersey, U.S.
|Language(s)||English and Spanish|
|Picture format||720p (HDTV)|
(downgraded to letterboxed 480i for the SDTV feed)
|Owner||Major League Baseball (67%)|
Warner Bros. Discovery Sports (16.67%)
NBC Sports Group (5.44%)
Charter Communications (5.44%)
Cox Communications (5.44%)
|Sister channels||MLB Network Radio|
|Launched||January 1, 2009|
The MLB Network is an American television sports channel dedicated to baseball. It is primarily owned by Major League Baseball, with Warner Bros. Discovery through its sports unit, Comcast's NBC Sports Group, Charter Communications, and Cox Communications having minority ownership.
The channel's headquarters and studios are located at their leased facilities in Secaucus, New Jersey, a building owned by Hartz Mountain Industries which formerly housed MSNBC's studios. MLB Network's studios also house NHL Network, which came under the management of MLB Advanced Media in mid-2015 and transferred most operations from the network's former Toronto home base.
Tony Petitti, former executive producer of CBS Sports, was named the network's first president. Petitti served as MLB Network's president until December 2014, when he was appointed as Chief Operating Officer of Major League Baseball. Rob McGlarry, who worked as Senior and later Executive Vice-president of Business Affairs at MLB Network since 2009, was named the network's second president.
As of February 2015, MLB Network is available to approximately 70.0 million households (60.1% of subscription television customers) in the United States. As of June 2023[update], the channel was available in 41.6 million homes.
Major League Baseball became the fourth major North American professional sports league to launch its own 24-hour cable network. NBA TV dates back to 1999, the NHL Network to 2001 (though not in the United States until 2007), and the NFL Network to 2003. However, MLB Network is carried in the most households of these four networks, as it is available on all of the top-ten video operators in the United States.
MLB Network soft-launched on December 16, 2008, with a rolling automated loop of archival programming and promotions for the network for cable systems that carried the network's transmissions leading up to the January 1, 2009 launch. The channel fully launched at 6:00 p.m. EST with the premiere of Hot Stove.
In April 2012, MLB Network's standard definition feed shifted to a 16:9 letterbox format. Both of the network's SD and HD feeds now show the same format.
On April 4, 2016, MLB Network debuted a new on-air graphics package optimized for the 16:9 format, replacing the previous on-air look used since the network's New Year's Day 2009 launch.
On January 31, 2023, MLB Network was removed from YouTube TV's channel lineup after they failed to reach a contract renewal agreement.
The network has signed contracts with numerous cable and satellite carriers, including DirecTV, Dish Network, Verizon Fios, Cablevision, Charter Communications, Comcast, Cox Communications, and U-verse TV. In a deal that was pioneered by other sports league owned channels, MLB tied carriage of MLB Network to the ability to carry the popular out of market MLB Extra Innings package. In return, cable and satellite providers were offered a minority share of the new network.
On March 26, 2010, it was announced that satellite radio station MLB Home Plate will be rebranded to MLB Network Radio which will simulcast some MLB Network programs such as MLB Tonight and Hot Stove. The switchover began on April 4, the first day of the 2010 MLB season.
At launch, no announcement was made about MLB Network availability in Canada, home of the Toronto Blue Jays. Network officials had been in contact with Blue Jays owner Rogers Communications (owner of Rogers Cable, the largest cable provider in Canada) about making MLB Network available in Canada, but emphasized prior to the channel's launch that a deal was not imminent.
In August 2008, Rogers secured Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approval for a Canadian digital channel tentatively called "Baseball TV". This license could have been used to launch a localized version of MLB Network with domestic advertising and additional Canadian content, along the lines of NBA TV Canada, which is owned by the parent company of the Toronto Raptors but uses much of the content of the league's U.S. channel NBA TV. It was reported initially that Rogers intended to pursue this approach to bring MLB Network to Canada. However, the licence was issued on the condition the channel launch by August 2011, which did not occur.
Rogers ultimately agreed to sponsor MLB Network's request to be added to the CRTC's list of approved foreign television services, which would permit Canadian cable and satellite providers to import the American feed, as has occurred previously with similar niche-sports services such as Big Ten Network, NFL Network, and Golf Channel. The application was published for public comment on June 13, 2012 and was approved on November 21, 2012. In the interim, the Rogers-owned Sportsnet One aired selected programs from MLB Network, including Quick Pitch and Intentional Talk.
MLB Network was added to Rogers Cable systems in Ontario on January 8, 2014, in both standard and high definition. On June 3, 2015, SaskTel announced that it would begin carrying MLB Network. As of 2017, it is also available on MTS and Vidéotron.
On March 23, 2017, MLB Network launched on Bell Fibe TV and Bell Satellite TV.
Shaw Cable, the dominant carrier in Western Canada, does not offer MLB Network.
As of 2018, MLB Network is carried nationwide in Canada on the DAZN streaming service.
The 720p high-definition simulcast of MLB Network launched simultaneously to the regular channel. After much discussion, MLB Network decided to use the 720p format instead of 1080-line-interlace because it believes 720p shows the motion of baseball more accurately and will degrade less when recompressed by cable operators to save bandwidth (most of the regional Fox Sports Networks use the same format). As Mark Haden (VP of engineering and IT of MLB Network) says: "That's our best shot of maintaining quality to viewers." All studio programs and original shows are shot in HD, as well as all self-produced games such as those of the 2009 World Baseball Classic and Thursday Night Baseball, as well as simulcasted locally produced games and contracted game packages it handles such as YouTube and Apple TV+'s Friday Night Baseball. The network also remastered 30 World Series films in high definition.
On April 14, 2016, it was announced that 25 MLB Network Showcase games would be broadcast in 4K ultra-high definition exclusively on DirecTV in the 2016 season, beginning April 15.
Main article: List of MLB Network personalities
MLB Network airs several live games a week. These games are blacked out in the participating markets of the two teams (unless listed otherwise). Blacked-out markets receive an alternate game or pre-taped programming.
When MLB expanded the playoffs in 2012 and created the wild-card round, TBS won the broadcast rights for both games, and in exchange, two Division Series games shifted to MLB Network, the first postseason games in their history. The first telecast took place on October 7 and featured the Detroit Tigers hosting the Oakland Athletics at Comerica Park in Detroit for game two of the 2012 ALDS. Matt Vasgersian called the game alongside analyst Jim Kaat. The second telecast took place on October 10 and featured the Washington Nationals hosting the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., for game three of the 2012 NLDS; this was the Nationals' first home postseason game since moving to Washington at the start of the 2005 season. Bob Costas provided the play-by-play commentary alongside analyst Jim Kaat.
Starting in 2014, as part of FOX's new eight year rights agreement, MLB Network would air two Division Series games from the league assigned to FOX for each postseason.
This arrangement was originally announced as continuing with a new rights deal in 2022. However, in September 2022, it was announced that Spanish-language broadcasts of the ALDS and ALCS would instead air on MLB Network.
International live-game coverage self-produced by MLB Network includes the World Baseball Classic and the Caribbean Series. The 2014 Sydney Cricket Ground opening series from Sydney between the Dodgers and Diamondbacks was a co-production between MLB Network and ESPN Australia, along with the Nine Network/GEM, which held the home rights for the broadcasts. Beginning with the 2015 season, MLB Network produces MLB International coverage of the MLB All-Star Game and the World Series, and provides the broadcasting panel for such in conjunction with other broadcasters.
The channel also airs live and tape delayed spring training games, simulcasted from one of the team's local TV rightsholder's feed, or if not available, the spring training complex's internal scoreboard video feed with the team's radio network audio. These games are also subject to local blackouts.
The channel also carries live development league games and occasionally broadcasts live college games. In August 2009, they aired youth baseball championships, including the RBI World Series and the Cal Ripken World Series. It also airs some games of the Arizona Fall League including the All-Star game and the championship.
In 2012, MLB Network took over the pre-game production responsibilities for the MLB on Fox package, producing Baseball Night in America and postseason pre-game shows from Secaucus and on-location. The show featured Matt Vasgersian or Greg Amsinger and two analysts from a rotating roster of MLB Network's personalities (Eric Byrnes, Kevin Millar, Dan Plesac, Harold Reynolds, Bill Ripken, or Mitch Williams). The show used Fox's graphics and theme songs. Fox took back control of the pregame show in 2014 when the "Game of the Week" package was eliminated.
MLB Network produces promos for its current MLB Network original series which air on regular basis as well as for films that MLB Network broadcast. MLB Network also airs promos for special events that it airs and different games that it broadcast live.
MLB Strike Zone is a channel launched on April 10, 2012, which allows viewers to see every game across MLB with up-to-the-minute highlights, live look-ins and updates, without commercials. The channel's format to similar to NFL RedZone and currently airs on Wednesday and Friday nights during the regular season. Though coverage often ends before most West Coast games start, those games are usually covered carousel-style on MLB Tonight on the main channel most evenings. Gregg Caserta is the current host of the show, which usually lasts about three hours.
Strike Zone airs live in Canada on TSN, Australia on ESPN Australia, Latin America on Fox Sports, along with other countries.
The Secaucus-based studios have four main sets, three of which are named after hall of famers. "Studio 3", named in honor of Babe Ruth, serves as the home for the majority of the studio programs, while "Studio 42", honoring Jackie Robinson, is a half-scale baseball field where demonstrations by the network's analysts take place, along with interview programs where an audience is needed for atmosphere. Studio 42 is also the home of the early rounds of the Major League Baseball Draft. The studio includes seating for over 125 people, along with elements such as a functioning manual scoreboard and a standings wall for each league and division.
With the launch of Intentional Talk in 2011, it was one of the first regular programs on television to use a remote production home studio setup on a regular basis, well before the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic necessitated it across the industry. If either host could not record in Secaucus, former host Chris Rose would record from a home studio in Los Angeles (the same with current co-host Stephen Nelson), while Kevin Millar records from his home studio in Austin, Texas, jocularly known as "Studio 1-5" for his uniform number.
On November 12, 2012, MLB Network introduced a third set, "Studio K", for the new daily morning offseason show Hot Stove and guests analysts/insiders on High Heat. During the premiere episode, hosts Matt Vasgersian and Harold Reynolds said that the studio was constructed from the building's mailroom, explaining its small size. After Rose left the network in 2020 and Stephen Nelson was named the new co-host of Intentional Talk in 2021, Nelson co-hosts the show from Studio K. In 2020 and again in 2021, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, MLB Network Showcase games were called remotely from Studio K.
In 2015, the network introduced a fourth set, "Studio 21", named in honor of Roberto Clemente. The studio hosts the shows MLB Central, MLB Now, and Quick Pitch along with the presentation of the BBWAA Awards.
The network had planned to launch permanent studios from a new tower in Manhattan's Harlem neighborhood by 2011. However, because of the 2008 financial crisis, the building project was scaled back and later canceled in late November 2008, with MLB deciding on a permanent setup in Secaucus instead.
With the August 2015 announcement that MLB Advanced Media would take over the digital properties of the National Hockey League, it was announced that NHL Network would relocate its studios and operations to the facilities of MLB Network. The channel temporarily originated its studio programming from Studio K and Studio 21, until the completion of a dedicated studio in April 2016. In honor of the NHL Stadium Series playing at the Colorado Rockies' Coors Field, a scale hockey rink was built on Studio 42 in February 2016 for cross-promotional appearances on NHL Network and MLB Network.