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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