Major League Baseball has reached an agreement with Verizon for the new MLB Network and the MLB Extra Innings package to be available on Verizon's FiOS fiber-optic television service. MLB Network, which will be launched Jan. 1, will offer live games, classic games, original programming and highlights.
FiOS isn't yet available in North Carolina, but Time Warner is a minority partner in MLB Network, which will be aired as part of Time Warner Cable's digital basic service. Time Warner already offers Extra Innings, but games involving the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles aren't included because TWC has not been able to reach an agreement with MASN, which is co-owned by and has the rights to the Orioles and Nationals.
As for the NFL Network, Time Warner is "not encouraged" that it will reach a deal with the NFL this year, TWC spokeswoman Melissa Buscher says.
Like MASN, the NFL wants its network to be available as part of Time Warner's standard cable service. TWC "remains interested," Buscher says, in carrying the NFL Network on a digital sports tier, which is available to subscribers willing to pay extra for it. "We have received no recent indication from the NFL that they're interested in negotiating such a deal," Buscher says.
Time Warner's stance: A network that airs only eight live games a year isn't worth the asking price of "tens of millions of dollars," Buscher says.
Interesting footnote: Last month, the chief of the FCC's Media Bureau, Monica Shah Desai, found that the NFL had established a prima facie case that cable corporation Comcast had illegally discriminated against the NFL Network and had required that Comcast have a financial interest in the programming as a condition for carrying it. The NFL's dispute with Comcast centers on the cable company's decision to move the NFL Network from a digital basic tier to a more expensive sports tier.
Desai is the same person who backed two different arbitrators' findings that Time Warner Cable had discriminated against MASN. Time Warner plans to appeal her decision to the full, five-member commission.