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MLB Looks at Prime Time “Game of the Week” Possibility

Feb. 11, 1964 - Major league baseball is advancing a new television package deal that would call for a “game of the week” in prime evening time and suspend all other contests on the same day. Under the plan, which could not materialize before the spring of 1965, two clubs would appear in a network game directed to the Eastern time zones and two others in a contest for Western viewers. The leagues have indicated a preference for a three-hour period on Monday night and have talked of a 26-week series. A number of club owners believe that a network deal of this type would not only prove an economic boon but also would enhance baseball’s image at a time when professional football was receiving increasing national exposure on the screen.

The core of professional baseball’s plan is to attract national network advertisers by eliminating present “blackouts” of baseball. The “blackouts” are designed to protect both box-office receipts and local T.V. arrangements of clubs.

Monday is the logical preference of organized baseball for a “game of the week” because it often is either an off-day or travel day for players. Accordingly, the network T.V. games would cause a minimum of scheduling problems.

Network officials pointed to a number of difficulties, however, standing in the way of evening network baseball. While the leagues are talking of filling three hours, there is no guarantee against suspension of a game because of rain, they said.

One network aide commented: “The leagues have got to put more excitement in their regular season and not just in the World Series.” Another official predicted that, in years to come, baseball may reduce the present number of 162 games to make individual contests count for more.


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