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Turner in Baseball Network

First-round playoff games will be only on cable and the World Series will start on a Tuesday next season as part of a seven-year television contract.

July 12, 2006|From the Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — First-round playoff games will be shown only on cable starting next season as part of baseball's new seven-year television deal with Fox and TBS, a total package worth almost $3 billion.

Turner Broadcasting System also will televise 26 regular-season Sunday games in 2008 while eventually cutting back on its nationwide Atlanta Braves coverage.

The World Series, All-Star games and Saturday afternoon telecasts remain on Fox through 2013, as does one of the league championship series.

The other league championship series -- alternating between AL and NL each year -- is still up for bidding.

There is a chance that TBS could benefit from the deal even sooner. The network will show all division and wild-card tiebreaker games, starting this year.

So if the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees finish even in the AL East this October and only one playoff spot remains, for example, TBS gets the game.

"Don't make me start dreaming," Turner Sports President David Levy said. "I'm looking for a lot of ties."

If two first-round games overlap, one will be broadcast on TNT, Levy added.

As part of the new deal, the World Series will start on a Tuesday instead of a Saturday beginning next season.

"Our ratings research shows that this schedule should generate higher ratings," Fox Sports President Ed Goren said.

Commissioner Bud Selig sounded pleased about the change too.

"It's so appropriate. That's the way it used to be," he said.

That means baseball must adjust its season schedule in the next collective bargaining agreement with the players' union. The current deal expires after this season.

Levy said it was too early to speculate which announcers TBS might want for its national games. He also said the network might "tinker" with Braves telecasts later this season to try out different camera angles and graphics packages for next season.

"We've always wanted to be a player in the postseason market," he said.

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