Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Jim Williams: MASN, CSN to battle for United’s TV rights

Jim Williams, The Examiner
Aug 9, 2006 5:00 AM (3 hrs ago)
Current rank: # 3 of 8,707 articles

WASHINGTON - D.C. United takes on Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid in Seattle on Comcast SportsNet tonight at 11.

United preferred to play the “friendly” in the Washington/Baltimore area but it could not be arranged. So the team worked closely with CSN to make sure its ardent fans could stay up late and catch all the action.

United will be heavily courted by both CSN and MASN when its current TV contract with United runs out at the end of 2006. United will be the first major pro franchise in town whose cable contract comes up for grabs since the landscape changed and we now have two local cable sports networks.

In 2007, United will be featured at least a dozen times as part of MLS’s new multi-network package:

» Five games on ESPN2/ABC as part of their new primetime Thursday night broadcasts.

» Five games on Fox Soccer Channel’s new primetime Saturday night package.

» At least two games on HDNET (Mark Cuban’s HDTV Network).

» At least two games on the Univision’s new Sunday night primetime Spanish broadcasts.

That leaves at least 20 local games for CSN and MASN to fight over. Scoring MLS’s most successful soccer franchise would be a coup for MASN and the network does want to add to its Washington-area properties.

As for CSN, it has a long history with United and made the team a major part of its professional sports programming along with the Wizards and the Caps.

Right now MASN is the home to Major League Baseball in the Mid Atlantic region and CSN has the NBA, NHL, MLS and ACC.

Besides the TV battles, radio play is also up for grabs.

Look for the Nationals, United, Caps, and major college teams in the area to find homes on either SportsTalk 980-AM WTEM, Triple X ESPN or WTWP as the fight to secure the best local sports programming is fought on both the video and audio fronts.

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


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