FanDuel - WFBC

August 31, 2005

OLN Could Be Seeking To Add MLB And Pro Lacrosse: Wow , someone better have deep pockets to wrestle MLB away from ESPN. Getting the NHL was easy seeing how ESPN wasn't too interested . They better hope they don't overextend themselves too fast , this would be expensive.

posted by evil empire to general at 10:05 AM - 25 comments

Man, I've just got to get that station so I can follow my fantasy lacrosse team more closely! Seriously, even though the network is just starting to get into the "bigs," I seriously doubt they'll ever wrestle baseball away from ESPN. Hockey was only a big draw for ESPN when the playoffs rolled around, but baseball will always attract more viewers, especially the old-timers. As long as ESPN has NFL, MLB, and college hoops, they know they could afford to let a competitor try and make a go with the NHL, especially at this segment of the sport's existence. I'm still curious about how many households (especially in major cities) receive the OLN?

posted by dyams at 10:23 AM on August 31

Your right d...I hear that lacrosse fantasy is getting more competative as the years roll by. OLN is getting more household connection quite fast actually. Only problem is they put it in the really high numbered channel selection in most markets with the fishing channel and the golf channel. I have watched the OLN channel when the Tour d' France was going on the last couple years and it isn't much to be desired over all for me. With hockey there, it should gain quite a following but I wouldn't be too certain it is going to ever gain the strength they are thinking it will. Not sure how many hockey fans get into many of the outdoor lifestyles they show on the channel as compared to participating in these things themselves, but I am very sure they will never gain the strength that ESPN has been known for all these years. It will be nice to see hockey on whatever channel it is aired on though!

posted by melcarek69 at 10:36 AM on August 31

Registration required. I think there's room for OLN to have some MLB without it being a big threat to anyone; there are so many games, after all, and they could do well by offering the "less popular" games (which still have a fan base) opposite the bigger draws. The question I have is, if OLN adds MLB and pro lacrosse, what will they be deleting?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:39 AM on August 31

Maybe they will create an OLN2.

posted by evil empire at 10:46 AM on August 31

I believe they've already cancelled several shows, lbb, including: "Snipe Hunting Today" "Your Mullet And You" "Shootin' Stuff" "Fishing with D-List Redneck Celebrities"

posted by wfrazerjr at 10:47 AM on August 31

Pro Lacrosse is actually quite TV-friendly. Lacrosse is also the #1 growing participation sport in the country, so OLN is ahead of the curve on this one. OLN, don't cancel this show.

posted by garfield at 10:49 AM on August 31

I see they have one show with an episode entitled "Drunk Crawls Home." I honestly hope they don't plan on canceling that type of programming.

posted by dyams at 10:50 AM on August 31

I just notice the link needs a sign up , here's the article ... OLN, the Comcast subsidiary that recently acquired the rights to NHL telecasts, may be seeking to expand its coverage of team sports. The cable channel, which before the hockey deal had focused on hunting, fishing, bull riding and bicycle racing, is reportedly trying to add major-league baseball and indoor lacrosse to its programing mix. OLN reaches about 64 million homes in the United States. MediaWeek reported that OLN is seeking to wrest Sunday and Wednesday baseball games from ESPN when ESPN's contract to televise the games ends after this season. An OLN spokeswoman declined to comment on the report. She did, however, confirm a MediaWeek report that OLN is evaluating a proposal from the National Lacrosse League for the TV rights to its games. The Philadelphia Wings are members of the NLL. "We have a proposal in to OLN along with some other cable networks, and we hope to finalize our cable package by the end of September," said Doug Fritts, vice president of communications for the NLL. "With the synergy of our existing NHL partnerships - six of our 11 teams are owned or operated by NHL teams - OLN would be a great partner for us," Fritts added. NBC carried the NLL all-star and championship games last season, although the league purchased the time.

posted by evil empire at 10:50 AM on August 31

They could probably show MLB games from Comcast markets without infringing on ESPN's rights. Comcast already does this on the HD channels. I hear that lacrosse fantasy is getting more competative as the years roll by As slash fiction?

posted by yerfatma at 11:01 AM on August 31

I attended my first lacrosse game about a month ago (Barrie Lakeshores) and had a blast. If the MLL became a staple of OLN (and I could get it in Canada), I'd watch it.

posted by wfrazerjr at 12:37 PM on August 31

I already spend enough time sitting around watching sports on TV. When I start adding lacrosse to the viewing list, it will officially be time to get rid of the TV sets.

posted by dyams at 01:15 PM on August 31

First off, OLN will never take the rights to baseball away from ESPN. OLN has never seen the amount of money that would take. Plus, even basic cable subscribers get ESPN, OLN is generally not available unless you buy a higher package. There will be alot of angry people if they do make the switch. Lacrosse is NOT going to take the USA by storm. It may be a fad sport (like indoor soccer or roller hockey) but it will never survive. Look at the MLS, NHL, even the AFL. They are pro sports and they do generate support, but they will never reach the height of MLB or the NFL. (I am not knocking these sports because I do love them, I am simply stating a fact) The US only has 2, maybe 3, big time pro sports and lacrosse will never be one of them

posted by mcstan13 at 01:21 PM on August 31

i take it back, bowling is the #1 growth sport. and guess what #3 is.

posted by garfield at 01:55 PM on August 31

You know, "Fishing with "D-list Celeberties" sounds like my kind of show!

posted by daddisamm at 01:59 PM on August 31

It may be a fad sport . . . but it will never survive Well, it's been around in North America longer than the White Man. I think it'll make it.

posted by yerfatma at 02:00 PM on August 31

Whether people watch it or not, lax has never before been played at the level now on display in the MLL. This is the best of the best, all playing together. And the rule changes all make the game better (compare it with recent stally NCAA championships and you'll see what I mean) -- shot clock, 2-point shots -- MLL lax is fun. I fear mcstan is right about lax not taking the US by storm, and if he is, the writing could be on the wall for MLL, especially if sports leagues are measured by market share and not fan base. Calling it a fad sport with one mouth and comparing it to roller hockey and indoor soccer, then turning around and comparing it to soccer, hockey, and football with the other mouth, though, is quite a mixed message. Soccer is a fad sport? Hockey? Non-NFL football? What are you saying? Cable gives small-sport fans the chance to support these sports (or at least watch them). If the audience is there, and the broadcast is there too, I'm left with this question: Who cares if they (n)ever reach the height of MLB or the NFL?

posted by Hugh Janus at 02:09 PM on August 31

I've got a basic cable package, and I get OLN. However, the only times I've watched it before are the Tour d' France the last couple of years or so. With them picking up the NHL, I'll be watching a lot more, but the execs there must be off their respective rockers if they think that they'll get the MLB from ESPN. I'd be in favor of them going for an MLS contract, even though that'll probably never happen. Soccer of any sort, for that matter. Oh, and I've only watched lacrosse a couple of times. It looks fun, but it would be much more enjoyable to watch if I had any idea what was going on...

posted by boredom_08 at 04:01 PM on August 31

If dodgeball can survive more than a couple of weeks on ANY channel then there's room for lax, too. It'll never displace one of the big 3, but it doesn't have to to generate revenue/profit for the folks that are wanting it.

posted by imanage at 04:06 PM on August 31

Lax doesn't have to take the US by storm to do well for itself on OLN, and for OLN to do well by the exchange. I think it's quite possible that OLN's path to success is as the small-sports channel, where their viewers are people who came to OLN for one narrow interest (they want to see lax, or they want to see bike racing, or they want to see ski racing, or whatever), and stay because they develop an interest in other "small sports" and like the channel that shows them. It's sort of the "Wide World of Sports" approach that's lacking anywhere else. I think that can be successful for OLN, but not if they put a lot of schedule time and resources into pursuing MLB.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 09:31 PM on August 31

It may be a fad sport (like indoor soccer or roller hockey) but it will never survive. If the CFL can survive, then the NLL will more than survive. I've attended one NLL game, Toronto Rock, and it was enjoyable. There were more people at *that* game (thanks to cheaper tickets, but still) than I've seen at Raptors games. In some markets (obviously not yours), the NLL has good fan support.

posted by mkn at 12:49 AM on September 01

MLL on the OLN wold be a good fit for both of them. I'm sure they can get the MLL cheap seeing how they don't pay the players huge contracts and must have little overhead . They could give MLL the chance to suceed that ESPN never would . I hope this works out for them , I'd love to see lacrosse get big/bigger in years to come . Its huge where I live , near Syracuse (23 consecutive appearances in the ncaa tourney).

posted by evil empire at 08:34 AM on September 01

To your point, lbb, ESPN didn't begin life with MLB, NFL, and NBA. I recall ESPN from the early 80's as having that "Wide World of Sports" approach. They were lucky if they had any highlights of MLB games to show on Sportscenter. They grew their business into an obviously mighty powerhouse with a very similar plan as what OLN is attempting to put together.

posted by imanage at 10:02 AM on September 01

OLN obviously is not going to grab the whole MLB package from ESPN, but that doesn't mean that it won't be able to land a package of games from MLB. ESPN reportedly wants to cut down a little on its baseball broadcasts anyway. And MLB can use a small baseball package to get Comcast to agree to add the new MLB channel on its cable systems. And, as others have pointed out, OLN is basic in a lot of places; it's in 50+ million homes and if it adds some football (it's supposedly the leading candidate for the package of Thursday NFL games about to be sold) and baseball it will get a lot more. As everybody else has said, MLL would be a very good fit.

posted by spira at 03:57 PM on September 01

Mike "Doc" Emrick, a 25-year veteran hockey broadcaster, was hired as the lead play-by-play announcer for OLN, which will televise NHL games beginning in October. Emrick, the voice of the New Jersey Devils since 1993, has also called NHL games alongside analyst John Davidson, a former New York Rangers goalie, on ABC. This season, NBC will be the league's national broadcast partner. NBC's announcing team hasn't been disclosed. "The addition of 'Doc' Emrick to our team is the first step in bringing fans first-rate hockey coverage on OLN," said Marc Fein, OLN's director of programming and production. " 'Doc' set the standard in this industry." ESPN declined a $60 million option to continue its NHL coverage after the league missed the entire 2003-04 season because of a lockout. Emrick, 59, will be part of OLN's broadcast team for its games on Monday and Tuesday nights. Terms of his contract were not disclosed Additional announcers will be named at a later date, the network said. "I will be happy with whomever because I have the distinct feeling that they will be going for good analysts and announcers," Emrick said in a telephone interview. Emrick is a member of the NHL's Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee. With several rules changes approved for the upcoming season, including a shootout to decide tie games, Emrick said he is anxious to see how much the changes will affect the sport. "This is the first year that I've looked forward to preseason games," he said. "We just don't know what to expect. It looks like the changes are going to be radical." Emrick will continue broadcasting Devils games under a three- year contract he has with Madison Square Garden network.

posted by evil empire at 08:50 AM on September 02

"First off, OLN will never take the rights to baseball away from ESPN. OLN has never seen the amount of money that would take." The rights for the cable package are a little over 140 million dollars per year according to Mediaweek. Though the rights will definitely go up, do you even know how much money Comcast has? They tried to buy Disney for 54 billion dollars! So unless baseball television rights suddenly jump up to 55 billion dollars, I think they can afford to acquire them! "Plus, even basic cable subscribers get ESPN, OLN is generally not available unless you buy a higher package." And that's precisely the point. It's exactly what Fox did back in 1994. They acquired the NFL rights without having a real sports division. But then they got affiliates almost everywhere. Comcast is currently trying to get on basic packages on all the cable companies, and the big point is to get as many subscribers as possible as they are trying to build up a competitor to ESPN, and with Baseball and Football rights, they offically will be.

posted by risnuff at 12:31 AM on September 05

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