TBS Grabs MLB Wild-Card Rights; MLB Network Joins Playoff Picture

More than two months have gone by since Major League Baseball announced sweeping changes to its postseason format, expanding the field to 10 teams and adding a one-game playoff to determine each division’s Wild Card berth. Today, those one-game, single-elimination playoff contests were finally given a home.

Major League Baseball and Turner Sports have announced that TBS will exclusively televise the American League and National League Wild Card games in 2012 and 2013.

“We at Turner applaud Major League Baseball on their decision to expand the eligibility for their postseason, and we believe these single-elimination Wild Card games will build upon the popularity of the sport and the playoffs,” says David Levy, president of sales, distribution, and sports for Turner Broadcasting System. “We’re looking forward to exciting times for baseball, the fans, our advertisers, and distributors.”

TBS has televised all MLB Division Series games and one League Championship Series each year since 2007. In 2012, the network will televise 18 of 20 potential Division Series games and will have exclusive coverage of the American League Championship Series. TBS will also continue to televise any necessary regular-season tie-breaker games.

“I can’t tell you how delighted we are that Turner has extended its partnership with Major League Baseball,” says Tim Brosnan, EVP, business, MLB. “We have a 35-year history with Turner, [and] they have been nothing but brilliant in our partnership. We’re expecting nothing short of more great baseball broadcasting from our partners at Turner. I can’t tell you how pleased we are, how pleased ownership is, and how pleased the commissioner is that Turner’s decided to extend the partnership.”

MLB also announced that two Division Series games in each of the 2012 and 2013 postseasons will shift from TBS to MLB Network. MLB Network will exclusively televise two Division Series games in each of the next two years, marking the first time MLB Network will air live postseason games. MLB Network will have production responsibilities for the exclusive broadcasts, with details to be determined.

“We are very excited to produce and air two LDS games on MLB Network this season and next,” says Tony Petitti, president and CEO of MLB Network. “We’re now in our fourth year on the air, and this announcement marks the beginning a new phase for MLB Network in which we’ll look to secure more important live content and continue to grow our distribution.”

The new format this season marks the first amendment to the postseason since MLB instituted the six-division, eight-team postseason structure in 1995.

“The new format will create two compelling Wild Card matchups for fans that will begin our postseason with unprecedented pressure and implications,” says Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. “We are confident that TBS will provide outstanding coverage and promotion of the games. I am also very pleased that this arrangement allows for MLB Network to air postseason games for the first time. MLB Network has done a remarkable job with its live game coverage, and I am certain that its extraordinary work will continue as it produces postseason games.”

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