Erik Linask : Sports Technology
Erik Linask

July 2009

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Is There Enough Content for a TV Channel about One Baseball Team?

July 16, 2009

Like many Major League Baseball fans whose local cable coverage includes New York Mets and New York Yankees (in order of the number of times the team lost a heart-breaking game because of a dropped pop-up with two outs in the ninth inning), my introduction to cable and telecom giant Comcast as a sports network came with my subscription to the so-called "MLB Extra Innings" package.   That package, a $150 item that features virtually all out-of-market baseball games - a fact that provokes an argument each March with my wife (this is one of those battles I choose to fight) - includes games fed through Comcast in markets such as Baltimore and Chicago.   But the MLB package just features those games, so the TV screen essentially goes blank after the final out is recorded.   So it makes me smile today to read that Comcast is touting its "significant milestone" of 100,000 watched by Red Sox fans on its "Red Sox On Demand" schedule.   It's OK for the MLB Network itself to have an around-the-clock baseball channel, because there's enough material to draw from.   But it's amusing to see these networks built around a single team - even a storied team, like the Red Sox or Yankees - try to provide content at all times.   Here's a sample of the PR that came out of Comcast today:   "This week, Red Sox On Demand programming includes profiles of pitcher Justin Masterson and Red Sox legend Dom DiMaggio, a special on the history of the iconic Citgo sign overlooking Fenway Park and features of Mike Lowell playing monopoly with Red Sox Foundation supporters and David Ortiz golfing during his signature fundraiser in the Dominican Republic. Red Sox On Demand also gives fans a closer look at the Cape Cod League, the Salem Red Sox and the Greenville Drive."   Mike Lowell playing monopoly? The history of the Citgo sign?   David Ortiz golfing?   I know the reputation of Red Sox Nation is that it's hungry for anything to do with their baseball time - so I'm delighted, genuinely, to read that the Red Sox On Demand channel offers things like games of the team's minor league affiliates.   But I also imagine Sox fans could do without the monopoly and the "history" of things like that sign.   At the same time, how could a Yankees fan rag on Red Sox Nation, when our beloved Bronx Bombers persist with that "Yankeeography" show, batting practice and Michael Kay's "Centerstage" program?   We can't.   But I'll leave the team-specific "On Demand" channels alone. Give me something more comprehensive.