Thursday, August 31, 2006

Jim Williams: Ten reasons why Baltimore sports fans should care about MASN

Jim Williams, The Examiner
Aug 31, 2006 5:00 AM (2 hrs 8 mins ago)
Current rank: # 9 of 5,642 articles

BALTIMORE - Somehow, I get the felling that Baltimore sports fans are not too excited about the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network coming to Comcast next week. Funny thing is, the new deal with the Baltimore-based regional cable outlet should be a much-anticipated event and, in many ways, is groundbreaking.

Here are 10 reasons why Baltimore sports fans should care about MASN:

1. In 2007, Orioles fans will be able to see the team without any interruption. The recent Comcast deal means that there will be O’s TV next season, and they won’t have to go through the Nationals’ TV mess.

2. The fact that the Orioles are senior partners in this regional sports network means more money to spend on the team. In 2007, both the Orioles and the Nationals will get around $25 million each in local TV money. That is large-market money any way you count it, and it should allow the Orioles to be players in free agency.

3. If this newfound revenue is spent wisely, the Orioles can be competitive for years to come.

4. This being a Baltimore-based regional network will give it a heavy local flair, catering to Charm City sports fans. Not that Comcast didn’t do a great job, but this is a Baltimore network.

5. The Ravens now have a new home on cable. The team can expand their purple-and-black reach into Virginia.

6. More area colleges will get men’s and women’s sports televised the next few years.

7. High schools and youth sports are in line to be highlighted in the not-too-distant distant future. A high school game of the week in a number of sports is part of the network’s plans.

8. Fans now can see American and National League baseball on a regular basis in one place.

9. This is the place where the Blast, and maybe someday soon, a local outdoor soccer team, can have a home.

10. It will give you one more thing to complain to Peter Angelos about.

If MASN is successful and the Orioles benefit from this, Baltimoreans will have something to be proud of. So before anyone writes this off as just an Angelos moneymaker, give it a chance.

After all, this is a huge risk. MASN, like most regional cable networks, is not likely to turn a profit for at least four years. If the Orioles are not successful and no one cares, this network will go away.

But it is very much in Angelos’ interest for this venture be successful. So embrace it as part of Baltimore, at least for a while.

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


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