Monday, August 07, 2006

Jim Williams: Balanced cable diet begins soon

Jim Williams, The Examiner
Aug 7, 2006 5:00 AM (2 hrs 40 mins ago)
Current rank: # 1 of 6,152 articles

WASHINGTON - Mark your calendar for the first week of September. As we learned Friday, the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network — hence, your Washington Nationals — will debut on Comcast.

Washington’s cable future is now secure for years to come. The Nats’ all-important TV marketing efforts will be year-round, which is great news for the team and its fans.

Comcast and MASN’s deal means 1.6 million subscribers in the Washington area, Baltimore and Salisbury will have access to the Baltimore-based network.

In 2007, MASN will produce over 300 Nationals and Orioles telecasts making them the exclusive home for Major League Baseball in the Mid Atlantic area. MASN will provide equal coverage and distribution of both teams assuring the same number of games throughout the region. That means you’ll see the Nats in Baltimore and the O’s in Washington.

Do not be surprised if some MASN produced baseball games show up on Comcast SportsNet because of channel capacity issues and scheduling conflicts.

Here’s what you will see on both networks:

» CSN is the official cable home of the Redskins. A new deal signed last week makes MASN the Ravens’ official cable home.

» Both will have lots of college sports featuring local and national conferences of interest.

» Last week, CSN cut a long-term deal with the ACC so we will be able to see all men’s and women’s sports starting this fall. It also airs Fox Sports Net content.

» Meanwhile, MASN signed a deal with ESPN Regional TV so it will be broadcasting games from the Big East (Georgetown and West Virginia), Big Ten, WAC, MAC and Sun Belt conferences.

» CSN has the Wizards, Caps and D.C United signed to long-term deals. The winter will mean lots of pro sports on CSN while MASN will focus on massive coverage of local and national college sports.

» Minor league baseball from Richmond, Norfolk, and Bowie could show up on CSN.

The point is this region is big enough for two cable networks. In the end the fans are the real winners. I just wish the victory was already a year old.

Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer.


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