Major League Baseball on FOX

Major League Baseball on FOX

Infobox Television | show_name=Major League Baseball on FOX

caption="Major League Baseball on FOX" logo
format = Baseball
runtime = 3½ hours
starring = Joe Buck
Tim McCarver
Ken Rosenthal
Matt Vasgersian
Thom Brennaman
Jeanne Zelasko
Kevin Kennedy
see below
country = USA
network = FOX (1996-)
first_aired = June 1, 1996
last_aired = 2013
website =
imdb_id = 0896892

"Major League Baseball on FOX" or "MLB on FOX" is a weekly presentation of Major League Baseball games on the Fox television network. "Major League Baseball on FOX" began on June 1, by|1996 and will continue at least through the 2013 Major League Baseball season.

FOX televised their first World Series in 1996, and has had exclusive rights to the World Series since 2000. Those exclusive rights currently extend through 2013.


Early years: 1996-2000

Major League Baseball made a deal with FOX and NBC on November 7, 1995. FOX paid a fraction less of the amount of money that CBS paid for the Major League Baseball television rights for the by|1990-by|1993 seasons. Unlike the previous television deal, "The Baseball Network", FOX reverted to the format of televising regular season games (approximately 16 weekly telecasts that normally began on Memorial Day weekend) on Saturday afternoons. FOX did however, continue a format that "The Baseball Network" started by offering games based purely on a viewer's region. FOX's approach has usually been to offer four regionalized telecasts, with exclusivity from 1-4 p.m. in each time zone.

When FOX first got into baseball, it used the motto "Same game, new attitude." FOX's primary goal when they first launched baseball was to promote their weak prime time schedule. cquote|We'll use the World Series and League Championship Series to spur our shows, said network sports president Ed Goren.

Like its predecessor NBC, FOX determined its Saturday schedule by who was playing a team from one of the three largest television markets: New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago. If there was a game which combined two of these three markets, it would be aired.

Exclusivity: 2001-2006

In September 2000, Major League Baseball concluded a six year, $2.5 billion contract with FOX to show Saturday baseball, the All-Star Game, selected Division Series games and exclusive coverage of the League Championship Series and World Series. 90% of the contract's value to FOX, who paid Major League Baseball $417 million per year, came from the postseason, which not only attracted large audiences, but also provided an opportunity for the network to showcase its fall schedule.

The contract protected Major League Baseball in the event of a labor dispute (something that didn't occur with "The Baseball Network" in by|1994). If some of the games were cancelled by a strike or lockout, Major League Baseball still got all its money, but had to compensate FOX with additional telecasts. On the other hand, a repeat of the 1994 Major League Baseball strike would've cost FOX well over $1 billion; the television contract created an incentive not to cause a strike, as it would hurt broadcast networks since they paid for the deal, unlike the 1994-95 television package.

Under the previous five year deal with NBC (by|1996-by|2000), FOX paid $115 million while NBC only paid $80 million per year. FOX paid about $575 million overall while NBC paid about $400 million overall. The difference between the FOX and the NBC contracts implicitly valued FOX's Saturday "Game of the Week" at less than $90 million for five years. Before NBC officially decided to part ways with Major League Baseball (for the second time in about 12 years) on September 26, 2000, FOX's payment would've been $345 million while NBC would've paid $240 million. Before by|1990, NBC had carried Major League Baseball since by|1947.

Under the new deal, FOX would now pay out an average of $417 million a year, which was about a 45 percent increase from the previous deal (worth $290 million a year) that FOX, NBC, and ESPN contributed together. CBS and ABC reportedly were not interested in buying the rights at the prices Major League Baseball was offering.When asked about the new deal with FOX, Commissioner Bud Selig said, cquote|We at Major League Baseball could not be happier with the result. They have been a good partner and an innovative producer of our games.

Neal Pilson, who was the president of CBS Sports when the network had the exclusive television rights for Major League Baseball said of FOX's $2.5 billion deal:

Some observers believed that gaining the relative ratings boost from the League Championship Series and World Series meant more to FOX than the other broadcast networks. That was because FOX had the biggest prime time ratings decline of the four major networks during the 1999-2000 season. Its average prime time audience of 8.97 million was down 17 percent from the year before, according to Nielsen Media Research.

New contract: 2007-2013

On July 11, by|2006, rumors on the future of "Major League Baseball on FOX" were put to rest when it was announced that the network had signed a new seven-year contract, which will guarantee that the World Series will appear on FOX through the 2013 season. FOX had widely been expected to renew the deal, but it was unclear what they would be willing to air beyond the All-Star Game and World Series.

The package was officially announced on October 17, with the news that TBS will air all Division Series games through 2013 and alternate League Championship Series with FOX during the contract. Additionally, FOX's coverage of the Saturday "Game of the Week" was expanded to start in April and last during the entire season.

Coverage details

FOX airs a "Game of the Week" every week of the season. Coverage begins with a pregame show at 3:30 p.m. Eastern time, in which host Jeanne Zelasko will be joined by a rotating group of studio analysts. This is followed by regional telecasts of up to three games, starting at about 3:55 p.m. ET. (See below for the names of all of the announcers that will be part of the coverage.) Previously, the games had staggered start times of 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. ET. Also, all games will air in high definition. Previously, only the primary game aired in HD.


Since the network bought the rights to post-season baseball coverage, FOX has received criticism from non-baseball fans for not airing first-run original programming during October. (Baseball fans point out that there are plenty of other broadcast and cable networks available on every TV package that do show original scripted programming.) For the majority of the years that FOX has aired baseball, the network started the season for "The Simpsons" and other shows in November, although a few shows begin in August or September and then go on hiatus until after the World Series. In by|2005, FOX started its season in September, took the month of October off to show the Major League Baseball playoffs, and resumed non-baseball programming in November. Both approaches have drawn criticism, indicating that there may not be a perfect way to accommodate both sports and regular programming. [ [ Fox Happy with More BCS, Less MLB] ]

In the first year of its six year, exclusive contract (by|2001), FOX did a split-telecast (not seen of since the days of the ill-fated "Baseball Network") for the League Championship Series. This meant that two games were played simultaneously on the same night, with one game airing on the FOX network and the other on the local regional Fox Sports Net cable channel (depending on market, as some markets had no regional sports network with a relationship to FSN). The rationale behind the split-telecast was that because of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the whole post-season schedule was pushed back a week. Because of this, two Sunday LCS games came in conflict with an "NFL on FOX" doubleheader. The fans and sports media reporters were unimpressed with the situation and MLB commissioner Bud Selig vowed it was a one-time deal necessitated by circumstance. However, in later years FOX used split telecasts on a few occasions to keep the playoffs "on schedule" and maximize its prime time advertising revenue, and aired the second game on FX, which has virtually national cable/satellite coverage. This ensured that FOX did not have to air an LCS game on a weekday afternoon, when many viewers are unable to watch. The 2007-2013 contract eliminates this, as TBS will have one of the League Championship Series each year.

Starting in by|2004, FOX's "Game of the Week" telecasts only appeared three times after August 28, because the network chose to begin telecasts in mid-May and avoid going up against college football in September. With lead play-by-play broadcaster Joe Buck now also handling the same duties for FOX's NFL coverage, FOX had to use a variety of announcers for its late-season baseball coverage. This may change under the 2007-2013 contract, as FOX is supposed to show games throughout the season.

pecial coverage

Since its baseball coverage began in 1996, FOX has aired three regular-season games in timeslots other than Saturday afternoon. As part of its coverage of Mark McGwire's bid for Roger Maris's single-season home run record in by|1998, FOX aired a Sunday afternoon Cincinnati Reds/St. Louis Cardinals game on September 6 and a Tuesday night Chicago Cubs/St. Louis Cardinals game on September 8 of that year. (McGwire hit his record-breaking 62nd home run of the season in the latter game, which got a 14.5 rating for FOX and remains the network's highest-rated regular-season Major League Baseball telecast.) On April 16, by|2004, the network aired a Friday night game between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox to cover those teams' first head-to-head meeting since the memorable 2003 ALCS.

Blackout policies and flexible scheduling

FOX has certain rights for afternoon Major League Baseball games on Saturdays, and ESPN has the same rights for night games on Sundays. Broadcasters cannot show games of in-market teams regardless of whether the game is home or away as long as the game of the local team has a start time or likely end time intruding on FOX or ESPN's national window, unless that network waives its exclusivity (thus, a 1:00 ET game can be televised, while a 2:00 ET game cannot). This is to encourage people to watch the ESPN or FOX game. A further enticement comes simply through the fact that FOX offers mostly regional coverage.

Usually there are no other games scheduled at these times, except when a team decides not to change the start-time even after FOX drops the game in favor of a better match-up, which they can and often will do on a few weeks notice, particularly after the All-Star Game. ESPN's post-All-Star Game schedule is likewise picked as little as two weeks ahead of time (schedules for the first half of the season are usually set during the winter). Other teams simply schedule games for other time-slots, particularly on Saturday nights or on Sunday afternoons. Also, the Texas Rangers often play summertime home games at night on Sundays because of the extreme heat common to Texas during much of the season, and normally receive special permission from ESPN to televise these games locally (their opponent's TV partner can also show the game). The Toronto Blue Jays sometimes have home games that conflict with FOX's Saturday afternoon telecasts, as Canada is not subject to FOX's exclusivity. Unlike ESPN, FOX does not normally permit the visiting U.S.-based team to televise the game live in its regional market.

FOX is allowed to show each team up to nine times during the regular season.

Commentators and studio personalities

As of by|2008, Joe Buck, son of Hall of Fame St. Louis Cardinals broadcaster Jack Buck, is FOX's #1 play-by-play commentator (a role he has had since FOX's debut year with Major League Baseball in by|1996). Joe Buck was teamed with Tim McCarver, although Tim McCarver was considered the main reason behind the firing of Jack Buck from CBS five years earlier (due to poor on-air chemistry between the two). Unlike the team of Jack Buck and Tim McCarver on CBS, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver fused. According to Tim McCarver, cquote|The play-by-play man [should] explain what and where and analyst answer why and how. He does both.

During the pre-by|2001 period, Bob Brenly acted as the third man in the booth with Joe Buck and Tim McCarver during the All-Star Game, League Championship Series and World Series. Joe Buck and Tim McCarver were at the microphone when Bob Brenly led the Arizona Diamondbacks as manager to the 2001 World Series title.

Since Joe Buck was hired to work on "The NFL on FOX" (following the retirement of lead play-by-play voice Pat Summerall) in 2002, Dick Stockton and Kenny Albert have both filled-in for Joe Buck whenever he is unable to work a game.

For several years, FOX utilized active or former players and managers as "guest analysts" on the network's League Championship Series telecasts. These included Bret Boone (2003 ALCS), Al Leiter (2003 NLCS and 2004 ALCS), Bob Brenly (2004 and 2005 NLCS), Lou Piniella (2005 and 2006 ALCS), and Luis Gonzalez (2006 NLCS).

The original studio host in by|1996 was Chip Caray. Dave Winfield and Steve Lyons were the show's original analysts. Unlike the network's primary broadcast teams, the studio personnel have not had the same longevity. Winfeld left FOX after only one season, and both Caray and Lyons would move to the broadcast booth before leaving the network. From by|1999-by|2000, Keith Olberman took over the hosting seat from Chip Caray, before being replaced by Jeanne Zelasko, who was promoted from Fox Sports Net's "National Sports Report".

Pregame shows

Most Saturday baseball games on FOX have been preceded by a baseball-oriented show. From by|1996-by|1999, FOX aired a baseball program geared to children and teenagers called "In the Zone". In by|2000, "In the Zone" was replaced by "This Week in Baseball", which had previously been in syndication. "TWIB" has been on FOX ever since.

Production overvivew


On July 8, by|1997, FOX televised its first ever All-Star Game (out of Jacobs Field in Cleveland). For this particular game, FOX introduced "Catcher-Cam" in which a camera was affixed to the catchers' masks in order to provide unique perspectives of the action around home plate. Catcher-Cam soon would become a regular fixture in FOX's baseball broadcasts.

In addition to Catcher-Cam, other innovations (some of which have received more acclaim than others) that FOX has provided for baseball telecasts have been:
*Sennheiser MKE-2 microphones and SK-250 transmitters in the bases.

*Between 12 and 16 microphones throughout the outfield, ranging from Sennheiser MKH-416 shotgun microphones to DPA 4061s with Crystal Partners Big Ear parabolic microphones to Crown Audio PCC160 plate microphones.

*The continuous "FoxBox" graphic, which contained the score, inning and other information in an upper corner of the TV screen. Since 2001, the "FoxBox" has morphed into a strip across the top of the screen which would later be used by NBC. For baseball broadcasts, it would be turned off when something really important happened (Mark McGwire's record-breaking 62nd home run in by|1998, the last out of the World Series, et cetera).

*Audio accompanying graphics and sandwiched replays between "whooshes."

*"Mega Slo-Mo" technology.

*"Scooter", a cartoony 3-D animated talking baseball (voiced by Tom Kenny) that occasionally appears to explain pitch types and mechanics, purportedly for younger viewers -- approximately the 10- to 12-year-olds. [ [ Play Ball (Please?): Fox Called Out on Balls and Strikes] Dead link|date=June 2008]

*"Ball Tracer", a stroboscopic comet tail showing the path of a pitch to the catcher's glove.

*"Strike Zone", which shows pitch sequences with strikes in yellow and balls in white. It can put a simulated pane of glass that shatters when a ball goes through the zone (a la the computerized scoring graphics used for bowling).

*The "high home" camera from high behind home plate. Its purpose is that it can trace the arc of a home run and measure the distance the ball traveled. The "high home" camera can also measure a runner's lead off first base while showing in different colors (green, yellow, red) and how far off the base and into pickoff danger a runner is venturing.

*"Diamond-Cam", introduced at the 2004 All-Star Game, a camera buried four inches in the ground between the pitcher's mound and home plate to provide field-level views of home plate and the pitcher's mound.

Note that FOX executives actually shelved ball tracer. strike zone, and high home cam before the prime time game on April 16, 2004.

In October 2004, FOX started airing all Major League Baseball postseason broadcasts (including the League Championship Series and World Series) in high definition. FOX also started airing the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in HD the following year. Prior to the 2008 season, one of the three regional games the network televises each Saturday was presented in HD. Now, all MLB games FOX televises -- including the aforementioned Saturday regional games -- are presented in HD.

Technical difficulties

During some broadcasts, FOX has experienced various technical difficulties. In its broadcast of Game 3 of the 2007 World Series between the Colorado Rockies and Boston Red Sox, for instance, a blackout occurred during the top half of the seventh inning, resulting in the disruption of a key moment in the game.

Digital on-screen graphics


In by|1996, FOX used the scoring bug on their MLB telecasts. Within two years, the bug would be expanded to all sportscasts. However, golf wouldn't use them at all, and scoring bugs would phased onto tennis broadcasts. On baseball broadcasts, the bug would be turned off at critical points (e.g. Mark McGwire's 62nd home run, the final out of the World Series, etc.). It was only the 1996 and 1998 World Series that the network left the bug on for the final out; when the bug was upgraded in by|1999, the network turned it off for the final out of the 2000 Series. This was criticized as the network's purpose was to provide the play rather than the usual information given during that certain at-bat.


In by|2001, the graphic changed from a bug to a banner spanning the top of the screen, and included a scrolling graphic displaying real-time scores of other games in progress. A simple, transparent black rectangle with a shaded area above it spanned the top of the screen from left to right, displaying the diamond graphic, this time consisting home plate as well as the main three bases, representing the baseball diamond, the abbreviations of both teams in white. The scores would be shown in yellow boxes next to the team. The center showed the inning (a triangle was placed to the left of the inning number to show which half-inning it was: pointing up, top of an inning; pointing down, bottom of an inning), to the right was the number of outs, right of that was the pitch count and the pitch speed (the pitch speed in the same location as the pitch count; pitch speed would appear be in a yellow box). The far right was the "MLB on FOX" logo. Whenever the banner was turned on, the shaded area above it would retract from the top of the screen, then the banner retracts out of the shaded area. When the banner was turned off, it would retract into the shaded area, which would retract to the top of the screen, diminishing from the viewpoint. Like the scoring bug, this version of the score banner would also be turned off at critical points. Midway in by|2003, the banner was enlarged (except for All-Star Game and World Series broadcasts) and made more transparent. Since the 2003 World Series, the logo on the far right would be something else instead than the "MLB on FOX" logo if the broadcasts were not regular season games (e.g. "World Series on FOX", "All-Star Game on FOX", etc.). This version of the banner used a modified version of the graphics package used since 1999.

Despite adopting new graphics for its other properties, viz. the NFL, NFL Europe, and NASCAR, FOX retained this on-screen look for its baseball coverage in by|2004 until the beginning of its coverage of that year's postseason. This banner was also used by FOX Sports Net for all sports broadcasts from 2001 until the middle of June 2005, and today it still can be found on numerous video clips.

A graphic from this package was used during the 15th inning of the 2008 All-Star Game when FOX displayed highlights from the 1967 MLB All-Star Game.


The banner was given a cosmetic upgrade beginning with the 2004 postseason. The abbreviations this time were electronic lettering in the team's main color, the shaded area above it was removed, and the scores were in black parallelograms. Whenever team-specific information was displayed in the banner such as a run scored, an out, the abbreviation would morph into the team logo. Also, when a home run was displayed in the banner, a split "strobe light" would flash a few times across the banner; then the words "HOME RUN" and the team's name in the team's color zoom in to the center from both left and right, making a futuristic computer sounder. When it was turned on, flashing lights spanning the top of the screen with two moving lines on top and bottom would join to morph into the banner; when first formed, the team logos are seen before changing into the abbreviations. When turned off, the banner became just a quick beam of light spanning the top of the screen, which would disappear very quickly. Beginning with the 2005 World Series, a new white banner was introduced, resembling a chrome finish, and the team abbreviations became white letters in the team's main color. This banner, unlike the 2001–2004 version wouldn't be turned off at the final out of the World Series, but it has been turned off at other critical points (like whenever Alex Rodriguez came to bat, tied with an April record 14 home runs, and when Barry Bonds had 753 home runs).

Despite adopting new graphics for its other properties, viz. the NFL, NASCAR, BCS, and Formula One (which used a different graphics package than the other three properties), FOX retained this on-screen (for the second time it has retained the same look for baseball after adopting new graphics for football and NASCAR) look for its baseball broadcasts in by|2007, this time through that year's postseason.

It was also used in the Rockies vs. Mets game on July 12, 2008 but with the current graphics package instead of the package that was used with this banner.

This banner can still be seen on video clips of "Major League Baseball on FOX" telecasts from that time span.


For the 2008 season, the graphics package was changed to a variation on the aforementioned new Fox Sports graphics. The diamond graphic now appears to the right of the scores, slimmed down to only consist of the main three bases (unlike other implementations which include the home plate). The "MLB on FOX" logo was moved to the far left. The colored strip across the top of the banner is locked to being blue (instead of being in the colors of the active team), the team abbreviations are no longer in the team's main color, like the 2001-2004 banner, and the shaded area above, which is used for the first time since the '01-'04 banner was last used, does not contain the animated stripe pattern. They only had the stripe pattern in the player stats graphic. The team's logo no longer flashes after scoring a run but the background sound of a computer mouse clicking is played with the changing of the score. The banner no longer flashes nor makes a futuristic computer sounder after a home run. Instead, along with the usual clicking sound, the text "HOME RUN: (team)" on the team color's background clicks in the empty space on the far right, which also includes the count and the out-of-town scores. The same goes for the "NFL on FOX" scoreboard when a touchdown or a field goal is scored. Also, the banner no longer flashes on or off, but retracts from the shaded area above in a similar way as the 2001-2004 banner.


Theme music

The "Major League Baseball on FOX" theme music was composed by NJJ Music, who has composed many other Fox Sports themes. It has been used for the entire duration of FOX's MLB coverage. A new version of the theme was introduced on May 12, 2007, involving a more orchestral, brassy sound, although the original version was used for the Mets-Yankees game on May 19, 2007, the beginning of the Yankees-Red Sox game on April 12, 2008, and the Dodgers-Mets game on May 31, 2008, and is still in use with FSN for their baseball broadcasts.


Fox Sports has also received criticism from sports fans of bias toward teams in certain conferences, especially during the Super Bowl and the World Series, usually the National Football Conference in football (due to the fact that FOX owns the rights to NFC games) and the American League, especially the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, in baseball. FOX rarely shows teams from outside the top-10 media markets during the regular season.

External links

* [ - MLB on FOX]
* [ 2007 MLB on FOX regular season TV schedule]
* [,%20MLB%20Baseball%20Theme.wav TV Theme - FOX, MLB Baseball Theme.wav]
* [ on FOX Map - May 20, 2006]
* [ Local listings for Week 2 — Saturday, May 27, 2006]
* [ Baseball's Best]
** [ 1996 ALDS | Game 2]
** [ 1996 World Series | Game 4]
** [ 1996 World Series | Game 6]
** [ 1997 ALCS | Game 3]
** [ McGwire Blasts #62]
** [ 1998 World Series | Game 4]
** [ 1999 ALDS | Game 5]
** [ 2000 World Series | Game 2]
** [ 2000 World Series | Game 5]
** [ 2001 ALDS | Game 3]
** [ 2001 World Series | Game 4]
** [ 2001 World Series | Game 7]
** [ 2002 World Series | Game 6]
** [ 2002 World Series | Game 7]
** [ 2003 NLDS | Game 5]
** [ story_page=bb_03alcs_gm3_nyabos 2003 ALCS | Game 3]
** [ 2003 ALCS | Game 7]
** [ 2004 ALCS | Game 5]
* [ 2006 "MLB on FOX" Schedule]
* [ Fox sets TV lineup (2006 postseason)]



# [ Baseball on Fox: A thing of the future]
# [ A 'Break' from Fox]
# [ - MLB, Fox, TBS lead baseball's new 7 year TV deal]
# [ Fox makes big changes to its baseball coverage]

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