The fourth U.S. professional sports league that has launched its own television network is Major League Baseball. MLB Network, launched January 1, joins the NFL, NBA, and NHL as leagues with their own cable TV channel. In some ways, launching a network focusing on a single sport is ill advised at a time when competition is abundant and advertisers' budgets are shrinking. Nevertheless, MLB Network appears to be poised to succeed.
What does MLB Network have going for it? First and foremost, it has distribution. Lack of distribution dooms more new products to failure than any other factor. MLB Network launched with an audience of more than 50 million households, larger than the other three leagues' audiences at their launches. Second, MLB Network brings brand equity on several fronts. The MLB brand itself is strong, as is the equity brought by its 30 clubs. Moreover, MLB Network personalities like Bob Costas and Harold Reynolds will be familiar faces to baseball fans. Finally, MLB Network will benefit from an abundance of content it can carry. Activity among Major League teams is constant from mid-February through October. Any gaps in programming can be filled relatively easily with classic games, features on old timers, and coverage of minor leagues, to name three possibilities.
I am looking forward to my first season having MLB Network as a resource to help with my fantasy baseball efforts... and I can use all the help I can get!
Link: Media Planner Buyer: "MLB Network Appeals to Media Buyers"
Labels: Major League Baseball, Sports Marketing