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--TOTAL BASEBALL Welcome hot-stove news: Major League Baseball is
developing a 24-hour-a-day digital cable channel. "We have
surveys and data that suggest baseball fans want to watch
baseball year-round," says Tim Brosnan, MLB's vice president of
business operations, "and that particular fans want to watch it
24 hours a day."

With the channel's launch 12 to 18 months away, many issues
remain unsettled, including the key one: Will it carry live big
league games? Such content would increase the property's value,
but MLB is wary of encroaching on its broadcast partners--Fox,
ESPN and Turner. So far, different leagues have handled this
question in different ways. Four-year-old NBA TV will air 96
games this season, while the two-month-old NFL Network shows no
games. If MLB-TV chooses not to broadcast big league games, the
programming could consist of archival footage (MLB's library is
the most extensive in sports), news and analysis shows, youth
baseball, and international and winter league games. Since
baseball, like the other sports, feels the need to wield control
over its product, live MLB games could be part of the channel's
future. "We're all big media sellers," Brosnan says. "We're all
subject to the vagaries of the market, and we all want to become
less so."

--OT-DOKEY Fox has been the primary beneficiary of these nail-
biter NFL playoffs. It has aired all three overtime finishes
and logged the first, third and fourth-highest ratings of the
postseason, capped by the Eagles' 20-17 win over the Packers on
Sunday, which drew a 25.3. Said color man Cris Collinsworth
after a Philadelphia field goal sent the game into OT, "As
[Eagles owner] Jeffrey Lurie celebrates, so do our executives
in L.A." Fox's games have averaged a 21.3, compared with 18.6
for CBS's and 15.9 for ABC's.

--Daniel G. Habib