Sports Outside the Beltway

Braves Games Not on TBS Any More

The Atlanta Braves have just a few more games on TBS.

Over the past three decades, thousands of Braves games have been televised nationally on TBS. Just 10 more to go.Sunday’s Braves-Cardinals game and nine September games will end a tradition that began in 1977, when Ted Turner had the seemingly outrageous idea of bouncing his bad baseball team’s games off a satellite and across the nation.

It was an idea that would help shape the fledgling industry of cable television, as well as the business of sports media. For a while, the ubiquitous Braves even earned the moniker “America’s Team.”

But after years of declining ratings for Braves games outside the Southeast, TBS next season will replace the team as national programming with a package of Sunday afternoon league-wide games. TBS also will carry postseason games for the first time starting this fall, airing all four division series plus the National League Championship Series.

Braves games will continue to air locally next season on over-the-air channel WTBS, which will be renamed Peachtree TV, as well as on regional cable networks SportSouth and FSN South.

Truly a shame. The Braves are back to being a regional team and, as a Braves fan living outside the region (even though I’m in the South), that means no more Braves games on free TV. And I’m not willing to pay exorbitant fees to subscribe to a package containing mostly games that I won’t watch. Which means, inevitably, that I’ll eventually lose interest in the Braves and Major League Baseball.

MLB brought this on themselves, though. By allowing teams in gigantic media markets like the Yankees to make a fortune in “local” revenues while teams like the Braves and the Cubs were required to share revenue earned via their “national” superstations, the incentives were to move more games to niche stations. In turn, that meant that fans never knew where to turn for their games and stations like TBS couldn’t get into a programming rhythm.

The NFL has figured out how to make sure that its most attractive teams get on national television on a routine basis. MLB hasn’t. Which is why the ceased being “America’s pastime” years and years ago.

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I feel your pain, brother. As a BoSox fan, I can get maybe two dozen games here in SW Florida. Luckily, Tampa is local, so I can watch those match-ups. WGN carries the White Sox. Otherwise, it’s FOX, FNS, ESPN or ESPN2, if they’re carrying a game.

But, having rooted for Boston for going on 55 years, that enough to keep the fix going. Maybe if I won a lottery I could afford one of the MLB TV packages. But then, if I won a lottery, I could afford to go to all the game in person!!

(Praying for a visit from the Lottery Fairy, though the one that lives in FL is only a statewide one and consequently cheap.)

Posted by John Burgess | August 28, 2007 | 02:52 pm | Permalink

I cannot remember a night in 20 years that my wife has not sat down to either listen to the Braves on the radio or watched them when we were lucky enough to have them on TV. It is really sad that MLB has allowed other teams to drive them off of TV. (I really hate the Yankees)
I would hope that someone would see the error of all of this and figure out a way to get all of the teams back on TV without having to pay an outrageous price to see them play. Is it greed that is running the show or is it poor management?

Posted by Mike Atkins | September 3, 2007 | 03:33 pm | Permalink

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