World Baseball Classic, Inc. (WBCI) has selected MLB Network to be the English language telecast partner in the United States for both the 2013 and 2017 World Baseball Classic tournaments.
The third edition of the tournament, in 2013, features the best players in the world. There will be thirty-nine games over a 2 1/2 week period beginning March 2 and ending March 19, 2013. The games will be played in seven stadiums in four countries.
MLB Network serves 70 million homes and this will help to add to continue its growth through exclusive premium content.
In the previous tournament in 2009, MLB Network televised 16 games. This time not only will they televise the games but they will also cover the tournament in its studio programming. With its shows like MLB Tonight, Hot Stove, Clubhouse Confidential, and Intentional Talk the network will have full tournament coverage for its viewers.
I think this is a step in the right direction for both MLB Network and the World Baseball Classic. There needs to be more coverage of the tournament both from a live game standpoint and everything that goes on around the games. Now fans will have one place to look to get all of the news and games. Sure they could have gone with a larger network like ESPN, TBS, or even Fox, but in the end I like that the tournament will be covered by baseball people.
I don’t think the difference in viewership will make too much of a difference at this point. Now fans won’t have to search for which network the games are on. It will also give MLB Network a chance to improve its coverage to the point that in 2017 they should be able to do a great job. Hopefully by that point the network will have grown as well.
The Classic needs to keep improving on and off the field and I think this is a step in the right direction. They improved the play on the field with the addition of qualifiers this year. If they can continue to make small steps toward improvements each year, they will keep building on the already great tournament that exists.