MLB Network, coming off the most-watched quarter in its history, is looking to maintain its Nielsen momentum with a host of special programming centering next week’s All-Star Game festivities.
The service will present coverage of the goings-on around the Mid-Summer Classic at Target Field in Minneapolis, provide game coverage of two contests potentially showcasing future all-stars and allow viewers to get in the front row with Bob Uecker (pictured), aka “Mr. Baseball.”
Anchored by live coverage from Target Field, featuring Greg Amsinger, Sean Casey, Peter Gammons, Brian Kenny, Al Leiter, Kevin Millar, Dan Plesac, Harold Reynolds, Chris Rose, Ken Rosenthal, John Smoltz, Tom Verducci, Heidi Watney and Matt Yallof, MLB Network will present All-Star media day on Monday, July 14 at 1 p.m. (ET), when American and National League managers John Farrell and Mike Matheny announce the starting pitchers for the junior and senior circuits.
Coverage will shift to the ballpark with four hours of shows live from batting practice for the Gillette Home Run Derby at Target Field, starting with High Heat with Christopher Russo at 4 p.m., Intentional Talk presented by Dairy Queen with Kevin Millar and Chris Rose at 5 p.m. and MLB Tonight presented by Firestone at 6 p.m., plus a highlight-filled MLB Tonight after the Home Run Derby.
On Tuesday, July 15, MLB Network will highlight all of the 2014 All-Stars as they make their way to Target Field on the All-Star Red Carpet Show presented by Chevrolet at 3 p.m.
Throughout All-Star Week, MLB Network will share behind-the-scenes photos from its sets at Target Field and the MLB All-Star Red Carpet Show via its Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages.
Exclusive footage of Minneapolis' own The Hold Steady will be showcased throughout MLBN's All-Star Week programming, including video filmed at the band's performance in Minnesota last week.
MLBN will televise the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game for the first time on Sunday, July 13 at 5 p.m. with Matt Vasgersian, Casey, Watney and MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo on the call live from Target Field. Comprised of players from all levels of the minors, the U.S. and World teams feature 15 former first round draft picks, six players picked in Compensation Round A and five second-round picks.
The service will also present the 27th annual Triple-A All-Star Game for the fifth time on Wednesday, July 16 at 7 p.m. with MLB Network’s Paul Severino, Darryl Hamilton, Sam Ryan and Baseball America editor in chief John Manuel on the mics from Durham Bulls Athletic Ballpark in Durham, N.C.
MLBN has also lined up a one-hour original special in tribute to the Milwaukee Brewers’ beloved radiocaster, Uecker . Hank Aaron, Bob Costas, Dick Ebersol, Tim McCarver, Al Michaels, Major League director David Ward and commissioner Bud Selig come together to share stories in Mr. Baseball, Bob Uecker on Thursday, July 17 at 7 p.m. Narrated by actor Tom Berenger, the hour-long special looks back on Uecker's brief career as a big-league backstop and his 43-year broadcasting run, including new interviews with the man himself and highlights from Major League, his Miller Lite commercials, and his appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
For his part, Costas interviews award-winning actor Kevin Costner during Field of Dreams: Twenty-Five Years Later in the hour immediately following the Ueckfest. Filmed last month at the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa at the silver anniversary celebration of the film’s release, Costner recounts stories of the making of the movie in this one-hour special. Also featured are Field of Dreams co-stars Timothy Busfield (Mark) and Dwier Brown (John Kinsella), with whom Costner recreates their famous catch in the film's final scene.
MLBN connected on the most-watched quarter in its history from Nielsen's April through June period, averaging 206,000 viewers in primetime, and 105,000 on a total-day measure, according to the measurement company. The deliveries over the first three months of the 2014 season mark 12% and 27% gains from the first half of the 2013 campaign.
A further breakdown shows that April ranks as the most-watched month in the service’s history, garnering 253,000 and 126,000 in primetime and total-day. May and June 2014 stand as the most-watched for the service with respective total-day amelioration of 24% and 11% from the corresponding months in 2013.
Its coverage of ballgames aside, MLBN benefited from a 62% time slot increase with rookie show, High Heat with Christopher Russo, and double-digit gains from The Rundown (42%), MLB Now (25%), Intentional Talk (16%), MLB Tonight (30%) and Quick Pitch (20%) over their second-quarter 2013 marks.