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Will Fox Sports 1 Shake-Up MLB Playoffs in 2014?

6/13/2014

By Tony Maglio
TheWrap

"Big Papi" David Ortiz blasted the Red Sox right back into Sunday night's Game 2 on Fox — Jarrod Saltalamacchia finished the Detroit Tigers off. It was a classic Boston playoff win.

But next year, it might not play out that way — at least not on the TV schedule. So if you want to catch Torii Hunter flipping over a wall, you might have to subscribe to cable.

Beginning in 2014, the Major League Baseball League Championship Series may shift from Fox to Fox Sports 1. Fox has the rights, but not the obligation to move the games to cable.

Also read:  ESPN's Bill Simmons Rips Fox Sports 1: 'Why Are We Even Talking About Them?'

The programming decision has yet to be made, Michael Mulvihill, senior vice president, Programming & Research, told TheWrap. And it likely won't be made soon. The call could even potentially be made on super short notice after the 2014 League Division Series.

"It's largely going to come down to our need to balance the needs of the broadcast business with the needs of the cable business," Mulvihill told TheWrap.

There are myriad factors, Mulvihill said. "This year's ratings will be taken into account, the potential match-ups next year will be taken into account."

He continued, "[Fox Sports 1] is a realistic alternative right now," Mulvihill told TheWrap, insisting that the young channel is ready with its 90 million home reach, adding that it has "no ratings benchmark to hit" to be worthy of the content's honor.

Also read:  Fox Sports Promotes Robert Gottlieb to EVP, Marketing

Fox has both LCS in 2014. Part of the League Division Series will definitely go from TBS to Fox Sports 1 next year. The World Series will remain on Fox, the wildcard play-in rounds will stay on TBS.

So far, Fox Sports 1 is not making a huge dent in the ratings battle, but it is still very early in the channel's history and clearly marquee live events are what attract viewers in the sports broadcasting business.

When asked if keeping the ALCS and NLCS off of cable and on free over-the-air TV would be akin to waving a white flag for the venture, Mulvihill said, "Whatever we do I'm sure there are going to be people in the industry that interprets [it] in a way that suits their own agenda."

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