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Major League Baseball on Fox or MLB on Fox is the presentation of Major League Baseball games on the Fox television network. Major League Baseball on Fox began on June 1, 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 1990–1993 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. "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 Yorkmarker, Los Angelesmarker, or Chicagomarker. 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 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 Major League Baseball, 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 1990, NBC had carried Major League Baseball since 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, "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 19992000 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, 2006, rumors of the demise 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, 2006. Under the terms of the arrangement, Fox retains its rights to its regular-season package, which now begins in April, and remains the exclusive home of the All-Star Game and World Series. Fox's postseason coverage beyond the World Series is limited to one League Championship Series per year, which alternates every year with TBS (who took over exclusive rights to the Division Series from ESPN) airing the other LCS.


FOX Saturday Baseball

FOX airs a Game of the Week every Saturday of the season. Currently, all games begin at 4 p.m. Eastern time, except when NASCAR on Fox is scheduled for Saturday night; in those cases, the game starts at 3:40 p.m. ET. Chris Rose sets the pregame storylines from one of the game sites, followed by game coverage.

This short show replaces a full-scale pregame show that aired at 3:30 p.m. from 2007 to 2008, in which host Jeanne Zelasko was joined by a rotating group of studio analysts. This was followed by regional telecasts of up to three games, starting at about 3:55 p.m. ET. Previously, the games had staggered start times of 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. ET.

Also, games have been aired in high definition since 2007. In 2007, only the primary game was aired in HD, but since 2008, all games have been aired in HD.

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. 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. Currently, local broadcasts are allowed on Saturdays if the game starts at 1 p.m. ET, but at no other time. If a game starts at 6 p.m. ET (both the teams in the state of Floridamarker, the Florida Marlins and the Tampa Bay Rays, have done this occasionally), the local broadcaster must either join the game in progress or air it on tape delay at 7 p.m. ET, the end of the exclusive Fox window. Also, none of the local 1 p.m. telecasts can be rebroadcast outside the market of the participating teams, specifically on MLB Extra Innings, except that Chicago Cubs and White Sox games can be shown on the superstation WGN America.

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.

FX's coverage

The Fox Broadcasting Company's sister network FX aired numerous Major League Baseball contests on Saturday nights in 2001, including Cal Ripken, Jr.'s final game at Camden Yardsmarker. FX also aired one game in the Major League Baseball postseason from 2001 to 2005, on the first Wednesday night of League Championship Series week when MLB schedules two games at the same time. On that night, Fox distributed one game to local affiliates based on a regional coverage map, and the other game aired on the corresponding cable affiliate of FX, the main DIRECTV or Dish Network channel, or an alternate channel on the satellite services.

With a new MLB TV contract signed, again excluding FX, the last such broadcast was scheduled for October 11, 2006, but that night's NLCS game between the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets was rained out, making the Detroit Tigers-Oakland Athletics game in the ALCS a national broadcast; FX aired the movie Any Given Sunday instead. Both series were played on October 13, but Fox showed both games, with the ALCS during the day and the NLCS at night.

Post-season coverage

Since the network bought the rights to postseason 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 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.

In the first year of its six year, exclusive contract (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 (as previously mentioned), 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.

Special 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 to break Roger Maris's single-season home run record in 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, 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.

For a Saturday afternoon telecast of a Los Angeles Dodgers/Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Fieldmarker on August 26, 2000, Fox aired a special "Turn Back the Clock" broadcast to commemorate the 61st anniversary of the first televised baseball game. The broadcast started with a re-creation of the television technology of 1939, with play-by-play announcer Joe Buck working alone with a single microphone, a single black-and-white camera, and no graphics; then, each subsequent half-inning would see the broadcast "jump ahead in time" to a later era, showing the evolving technologies and presentation of network baseball coverage through the years.

Commentators and studio personalities

As of 2009, Joe Buck, son of Hall of Fame St. Louis Cardinals broadcaster Jack Buck, is Fox's lead play-by-play commentator (a role he has had since Fox's debut year with Major League Baseball in 1996). Since 1996 Buck has been teamed with Tim McCarver, although 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 McCarver on CBS, Joe Buck and McCarver have fused. According to McCarver, "The play-by-play man [should] explain what and where and analyst answer why and how. [Joe Buck] does both."

During the pre-2001 period, Bob Brenly acted as the third man in the booth with Buck and McCarver during the All-Star Game, League Championship Series and World Series. Buck and McCarver were at the microphone when 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). Many fans accuse Fox of choosing announcers biased towards large market teams, citing some of these choices, including Boone, whose brother, Aaron Boone, was playing for the Yankees in the 2003 ACLS games covered by Bret Boone.

The original studio host in 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 1999–2000, Keith Olbermann took over the hosting seat from Caray, before being replaced by Jeanne Zelasko, who was promoted from Fox Sports Net's National Sports Report.

As previously mentioned, due to poor ratings and budget concerns, Fox beginning in 2009, has decided to scrap the studio/pregame show altogether (in return, host Jeanne Zelasko and analyst Kevin Kennedy were dropped by Fox altogether), although it is being used for the League Championship Series. For instance, for Fox's coverage of the 2009 ALCS, Chris Rose (who as previously mentioned, beginning in the 2009 season, became the defacto pregame host, albeit on location from one of Fox's game sites) hosted from Fox's studio in Los Angeles with analysts Eric Karros and Mark Grace. For the 2009 World Series the same host analysts are going to have an onfield studio for the pre-game show, and White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen will be a guest analyst throughout the series.

Pregame shows

Most Saturday baseball games on Fox have been preceded by a baseball-oriented show. From 1996 to 1999, Fox aired a baseball program geared to children and teenagers called In the Zone. In 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 overview


On July 8, 1997, Fox televised its first ever All-Star Game (out of Jacobs Fieldmarker in Clevelandmarker). 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 1998, the last out of the World Series, et cetera). Beginning in 2009, the top-screen strip would return to a box in the top left-hand corner of the screen.
  • 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.
  • 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 (à 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 after the prime time game on April 16, 2004, although Scooter was still used until 2006.

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 that year and 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 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; it wasn't until the bug was upgraded in 1999 that 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 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; the graphics were the same as those used since 1999, but they were updated as well. 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. This banner along with the shaded area above it retracted from the top of the screen whenever it turned on or turned off. Like the scoring bug, this version of the score banner would also be turned off at critical points. Midway in 2003, the banner was slightly changed to mirror that of FSN although Fox retained its own graphics package; it was enlarged (except for All-Star Game and World Series broadcasts) and made more transparent. During Fox's coverage the 2003 World Series and the 2004 All-Star Game, 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.)

Beginning with the 2003 NFL Season, Fox introduced new graphics for its other properties, the NFL, NFL Europe, and NASCAR, but the network retained this on-screen look for its baseball coverage in 2004 until its coverage of that year's postseason. This banner was also used by FSN for all sports broadcasts from 2001 until the middle of 2005 but using different graphics packages than the one Fox used.

A graphic from this package was seen 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; with the run scored, the team whose run scored would have its abbreviation morph into its logo, and a "strobe light" would flash over the black parallelogram as the score changes. 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 two distorted electric buzzes followed by a futuristic computer sounder; this was the first time a home run was displayed in the banner. 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. During 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; the next couple of years, the new banner was adopted for all games. This banner, unlike the 2001–2004 version wouldn't be turned off at the final out of the World Series, but it was 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).

Beginning with the 2006 NFL season, Fox adopted another new graphics look for its other properties, the NFL, NASCAR, BCS, and Formula One (which used a different graphics package than the other three properties) but retained this on-screen look for its baseball broadcasts in 2007.

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


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 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. This banner is very similar to the 2001–2004 score banner since it and the shaded area above retract from the top of the screen whenever turned on or off but in a rather different way. The team names are always abbreviations (for example if the Phillies were playing the Mets the Philadelphia Phillies would be listed as "PHI" and the New York Mets as "NYM"), but the scores aren't shown in yellow boxes. If a team scores, the team letters and score numbers flip while the points are being added. If a team scores on a home run, this happens 5 or 6 seconds after the "HOME RUN" bar pops out.

The ball strike count pops out of the blank area when needed. The bug is turned off for reporting camera angles and for the press box camera. Note that like its predecessor, the bug wasn't turned off for the final out of the World Series.


For the 2009 season, telecasts began using the same graphics package implemented by FSN, now consisting of a rectangular box in the top-left corner of the screen for the first time since 2000.However, for the pregame show during the 2009 postseason, the previous graphics were used, but the new FSN graphics were still used during the game.

Unlike the score box used from 1999-2000 and the first score banner from 2001-2004, the graphic would not be turned off for the final out of the World Series.


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 midway into the 2007 season, 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 in a limited basis during the 2009 MLB Playoffs and World Series. All the FSN stations, with the exception of WFTC 29marker, FSN North, FSN Kansas City, FSN Wisconsin, WMLW, FSN Northwest, FSN Pittsburgh, FSN Florida, FSN West, and Sun Sports have retained the original theme as of 2009; it is currently unknown whether or not the original theme will be used by any of the FSN affiliates in 2010.

During the 2007 ALCS, a new theme composed by Jochen Flach was introduced for postseason broadcasts, consisting of a majestic, moderate-slow orchestral piece. This theme would also be used for the 2008 All-Star Game, that year's postseason, the 2009 All-Star Game and this year's postseason.


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. Also in recent years, both "O Canada" and the "Star Spangled Banner" were preempted during the All-Star Game for commercials.


  1. Fox Happy with More BCS, Less MLB
  2. Play Ball (Please?): Fox Called Out on Balls and Strikes

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