It’s official: Tony Petitti will lead Major League Baseball’s new network, which will launch with more subscribers than any in cable history.
Petitti, CBS Sports executive vice president and executive producer, was introduced today during a conference call as president and CEO of MLB Network, which is slated to come out of the box in January with more than 50 million homes in tow.
MLB commissioner Allan 'Bud' Selig, who said that Petitti was “well-versed in every aspect of the television business," noted that the CBS Sports veteran was the “No. 1 candidate and the one we really wanted.”
Petitti expressed excitement about leading and building MLB Network, labeling its initial distribution as “unprecedented.”
Among his immediate challenges will be to hire staff for production, programming, advertising and affiliate sales, while “utilizing what baseball already has in place.”
MLB executive vice president, business Tim Brosnan, said that Petitti is technically MLB Network’s second employee -- an engineer is at work in NBC's studios in Seacaucus, N.J. -- but noted that many officials at MLB have been working “non-stop” over the past 12 months on preparing for the service’s launch.
On the programming side of the dish, MLB Network, Petitti said, would feature 26 regular-season games, supplemented by complete coverage of the game on a daily basis.
“There is no sport that has as much content in season. We want to be involved with the spirit of the game on a nightly basis,” he said, noting that the service also would cover the varied meetings during the off-season. “We’re going to get players and fans involved. With the archival and new programming that has been created, I’m very confident there will be more than enough to schedule the network.”
At CBS, a search is underway to find Petitti’s successor, relative to his recent role leading CBS College Sports Network, nee College Sports Television.
Petitti assumed those duties in February when CSTV, purchased by CBS in 2005 for $325 million, was integrated within CBS Sports. A month later, the new moniker was unveiled and the network began buttressing its programming base, ramping up production on expansive “March Madness” coverage, supplementing Black Rock’s presentation of the NCAA men’s Division 1 basketball tourney.