Mid-Atlantic Sports Network
|Mid-Atlantic Sports Network|
|Launched||April 4, 2005|
|Network||Fox Sports Networks (MASN2 only)|
|Owned by||Baltimore Orioles (90%)
Washington Nationals (10%)
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)
eastern and central North Carolina
south central Pennsylvania
Nationwide (via satellite)
|DirecTV||MASN: 640 (HD/SD)
MASN2: 641-1 (HD)
|Dish Network||MASN: 432 (HD)
MASN2: 433 (SD only)
|Comcast (Baltimore)||MASN: 4 (SD)
MASN2: 17 (SD)
|Comcast (Washington, D.C.)||MASN: 42 (SD)
MASN2: 5 (SD)
|Verizon FiOS||MASN: 577 (HD)
MASN2: 579 (HD)
|Available on most other cable systems in designated broadcast area||Consult your local cable provider or program listings source for channel availability|
Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) is an American regional sports network owned as a joint venture between two Major League Baseball franchises, the Baltimore Orioles (which own a controlling 90% interest) and the Washington Nationals (which owns the remaining 10%). Headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, the channel broadcasts regional coverage of sports events in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area.
MASN is available on approximately 23 cable and fiber optic television providers throughout Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia, eastern and central North Carolina, West Virginia, south central Pennsylvania and Delaware (on providers such as Comcast, Cox Communications, RCN, Mediacom, Charter Communications and Verizon FiOS, covering an area stretching from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to Charlotte, North Carolina); it is also available nationwide on satellite via DirecTV and Dish Network.
- 1 History
- 2 Programming
- 3 Other services
- 4 Carriage controversies
- 5 On-air staff
- 6 References
- 7 External links
When the Montreal Expos relocated to Washington, D.C., in 2004 as the Nationals, issues arose regarding television rights for the new franchise. The Orioles have had a sizable following in the Washington area since moving from St. Louis in 1954, and have claimed Washington as part of their home territory since the second Washington Senators became the Texas Rangers in 1972. Since at least 1981, Major League Baseball had designated the Orioles' television territory as extending from Harrisburg to Charlotte. The Orioles agreed to share their territory with the Nationals in return for the ability to air Nationals games on the Orioles' planned regional sports network, to be named the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network. Major League Baseball paid the Orioles $75 million for a 10% stake in MASN, with the team maintaining a controlling interest of 90%. The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network launched on April 4, 2005.
The family of Lerner Enterprises founder Ted Lerner subsequently became part-owners in MASN after their purchase of the Washington Nationals in July 2006. As part of the deal, the Nationals' stake in the network would increase to 33% over 23 years. Under the current arrangement, MASN paid the Nationals $20 million to broadcast their games in 2005. The same month that the Lerners acquired minority interest in MASN, the network, which originally broadcast mainly during Orioles and Nationals games, converted into a 24-hour channel with an expanded roster of collegiate sports events, local and national programming to supplement the Nationals and Orioles games outside of the Major League Baseball season. It has become a strong competitor to the area's dominant regional sports network, Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic.
As a whole, the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network televises more than 600 professional and NCAA Division I collegiate events annually.
Orioles and Nationals telecasts
The network carries live telecasts of all Orioles and Nationals games that are not televised by a national broadcast or cable network, and produces the pre-game and post-game shows Nats Xtra and O's Xtra, which bookend the game telecasts. As with all Major League Baseball broadcasts, MASN-produced games are available for streaming out of the teams' respective territories at mlb.tv, with local viewers able to watch highlights for a certain amount of time following the conclusion of each game.
MASN also produces over-the-air television broadcasts of Nationals and Orioles games for television stations in their respective primary markets – producing Nationals games seen on CW affiliate WDCW (channel 50) in Washington, and Orioles games seen on CBS owned-and-operated station WJZ-TV (channel 13) in Baltimore, which are shown on MASN elsewhere within the network's broadcast area.
Since 2009, MASN has utilized five broadcasters to provide simultaneous coverage of the Beltway Series, using the network's on-air staffs for the respective teams whenever the Orioles and Nationals play one another. Each team is represented by an analyst and two sideline reporters for their respective telecasts, with play-by-play announcers each broadcasting for half of the game. As of 2014, MASN and sister network MASN2 each maintain separate streams for both teams during the Beltway Series.
Beginning in 2006, MASN began serving as the official regional cable broadcaster of the NFL's Baltimore Ravens, televising the team's preseason games, as well as nightly airings of team-related programming (including Ravens Xtra, 1 Winning Drive, The John Harbaugh Show, Ravens Report, Game Plan and Purple Passion) and original live post-game shows during the regular season. MASN's broadcasting relationship with the Ravens ended after the 2009 NFL season.
The network televises 275 collegiate sporting events each year from NCAA Division I teams in football, basketball and lacrosse. MASN serves as the regional cable television home of Georgetown Hoyas and George Mason Patriots and UNC Wilmington Seahawks basketball games, as well as Big East and Big South basketball and football, and Colonial Athletic Association basketball games, the annual BB&T Classic and coaches shows for regional NCAA teams.
It also carries a sizeable amount of college sports programming distributed by various syndicators including college basketball games from the Atlantic-10 Conference, America East Conference, Big 12 Conference, Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference, Northeast Conference and Southern Conference; college football games from the American Athletic Conference, Ivy League and the Sunbelt Conference; and games from the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, Mid-American Conference, Patriot League and Western Athletic Conference in both sports.
In addition to nationally distributed college sports events, MASN carries other national programming from Fox Sports Networks including golf and outdoor programs, horse racing, poker and NASCAR events. In 2010, MASN relaunched The John Riggins Show, a daily sports talk show hosted by the Washington Redskins hall of famer, who was previously with the network from 2006 to 2008. In addition to an afternoon drive program, Riggins hosted Riggo's Postgame Xtra, which aired after each Redskins game.
The network also has a companion channel MASN2 that airs overflow games in order to accommodate both baseball teams' schedules. In September 2013, MASN2 became an affiliate of Fox Sports Networks, although select FSN-produced ACC games air on CSN Mid-Atlantic instead.
MASNHD is a high definition simulcast feed of MASN, which broadcasts in the 1080i resolution format. MASN announced that it would launch a full-time HD feed on September 16, 2008, and televise 200 Major League Baseball games in HD in 2009. Since 2010, MASN and MASN2 have televised every Orioles and Nationals game not aired on national television in high definition. In 2012, all sports telecasts on the network began to be letterboxed on the network's standard definition feed via the #10 Active Format Description tag format, with graphics framed for 16:9 widescreen displays rather than the 4:3 safe area; games produced by MASN on WDCW and WJZ-TV utilize 4:3-optimized graphics to accommodate standard definition viewers.
After the Orioles agreed to share their television territory with the Nationals, another controversy arose with television rights. Comcast Sports Net Mid-Atlantic, the Orioles' cable partner since 1984, dating back to its days as Home Team Sports (which until 2000, was formerly co-owned with WJZ-TV under Group W and later CBS) maintained a ten-year cable television contract to broadcast Orioles games through the 2006 season. When MASN announced plans to move Orioles broadcasts to MASN, CSN Mid-Atlantic (by then, a wholly owned subsidiary of Comcast) sued the Orioles seeking enforcement of a clause in its contract with the team, which Comcast SportsNet claimed allowed them the exclusive right of first and last refusal on future television contracts. MASN and the Orioles, however, claimed that MASN is a trade name for TCR Sports Broadcasting Holding, which was established in 1996 to sell all of the Orioles television rights, which resulted in the sale of the ten-year deal to HTS. Because of this, the Orioles and MASN claimed to be simply bringing their rights in-house.
On July 27, 2005, after argument by Baltimore attorney Arnold M. Weiner, Montgomery County Circuit Judge Durke G. Thompson threw out Comcast's lawsuit, ruling that the clause in Comcast’s contract with the Orioles had not been triggered. Comcast filed an amended complaint and on October 5, Judge Thompson threw out Comcast's second effort.
Up to that point, Comcast was the only major cable carrier that refused to carry MASN. However, as Comcast is the dominant cable provider in most of the Nationals and Orioles territory--including Baltimore and Washington themselves--this left most Nationals fans unable to see games without satellite. Additionally, Adelphia Communications – then in the middle of bankruptcy proceedings and therefore unable to reach new carriage deals – was in the process of being sold to Comcast and Time Warner Cable on a piecemeal basis. On August 4, 2006, following a settlement, it was announced that Comcast would carry MASN starting that September. Comcast was forced to drop its lawsuit under the terms of the deal. This cleared the way for the Orioles to move their games to MASN for the 2007 season.
In August 2008, MASN made a carriage complaint to the Federal Communications Commission after negotiations with Comcast did not result in a new contractual agreement. On December 23, 2009, Comcast and MASN finally settled their dispute over these systems, with the cable provider announcing plans to carry the network on systems that were not carrying it already "as early as 2010". The FCC complaint was dismissed that same day. On March 23, 2010, MASN announced that Comcast would begin carrying the network on its central Pennsylvania systems on March 31.
Time Warner Cable
Time Warner Cable, North Carolina's largest cable provider, does not currently carry MASN on a basic cable tier on its North Carolina systems. This has resulted in the network airing a series of radio advertisements in the area asking TWC customers to ask the cable provider to add the network. On January 21, 2008, an FCC arbitrator ordered Time Warner Cable to add MASN on its North Carolina systems, citing an argument that the provider was not carrying MASN in an effort to protect its own regional sports network Time Warner Cable Sports[disambiguation needed]. Time Warner Cable appealed the decision to the FCC. On October 30, 2008, the FCC's Media Bureau denied the motions filed by Time Warner Cable in its appeal, and ordered TWC to put MASN on the analog tier of its North Carolina systems within 30 days.
TWC filed another appeal for that decision, this time to the full commission. On January 16, 2009, the item was placed "on circulation" and remained there for almost two years. On December 20, 2010, the FCC voted 4-1 to grant Time Warner Cable's petition for review and reversed the Media Bureau's order. In the Memorandum Opinion and Order, it was revealed that in addition to offering carriage to MASN on a digital basic tier, TWC had "inquired into MASN's willingness to agree to carriage of MASN on an analog tier only in its Eastern North Carolina systems". This information seemed to expose TWC's apparent willingness to carry MASN on an analog tier on its systems in the Triangle and Wilmington areas, where the Nationals and Orioles are the only "local" teams designated by Major League Baseball. In the remaining home markets that are shared with the Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds--including Charlotte and the Piedmont Triad--MASN would be carried on a digital basic tier, which is the same level of service where some Braves' games are carried.
However, MASN insists on analog coverage in all areas. As a result, Time Warner Cable continues not to carry the network in North Carolina. MASN's North Carolina footprint is limited to a few small cable systems scattered across the state, mostly in areas that are part of the Hampton Roads market. All games involving the Orioles and Nationals are blacked out in most of North Carolina from all other outlets including MLB Network, TBS, ESPN (for weekday games), MLB Extra Innings and MLB.tv.
Current on-air staff
- Rick Dempsey – O's Xtra host, and fill-in color commentator
- Jim Hunter – fill-in play-by-play (2006–2010), O's Xtra pre-game and post-game host (2010–present)
- Jim Palmer – color commentator
- Amber Theoharis – sideline reporter (2008–September 2010), fill-in announcer/commentator (2010–present)
- Gary Thorne – play-by-play announcer
- Bob Carpenter – play-by-play announcer
- Ben Goessling – sideline reporter (January 2010–present)
- Johnny Holliday – Nats Xtra host
- Dave Jageler – fill-in play-by-play announcer
- Byron Kerr – fill-in sideline reporter and Nats Xtra host
- Ray Knight – Nats Xtra host
- Dan Kolko – sideline reporter
- F. P. Santangelo – color commentator
- Phil Wood – fill-in Nats Xtra host
Former on-air staff
- Mike Bordick – Orioles fill-in color commentator (2013)
- Tom Davis – fill-in Orioles color commentator/play-by-play announcer
- Rob Dibble – Nationals color commenator (2005–September 1, 2010)
- Mike Flanagan – Orioles color commentator (2010–August 2011; deceased)
- Dave Johnson – fill-in Orioles color commentator/play-by-play announcer
- Billy Ripken – fill-in Orioles color commentator/play-by-play announcer
- Mark Viviano – fill-in Orioles sideline reporter
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