When the MLB Network goes on the air on January 1 — with anchor Harold Reynolds, pictured — they’ll be broadcasting live from MSNBC’s former studio in Secaucus, New Jersey. But even though they’ll be pouring tens of millions of dollars into the facilities in order to make them HD-ready, the network won’t be there for very long. They’re building a new facility in Harlem and plan to move there in 2011. It was pointed out yesterday by the SportsBusiness Journal that, financially, this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, especially since networks like ESPN and YES have done just fine broadcasting essentially from the middle of nowhere. But a desire to have a studio in New York City proper might not be the only factor here.
SBJ’s John Ourand writes that he understands why baseball would want their studios at 125th and Park, “given the issues baseball has had in attracting African-American fans.” Not only is this latter part true, but baseball seems to have a problem attracting black players: Just 8 percent of major leaguers are black, less than half the number from only ten years ago. But this seems like a mighty inefficient (and mighty expensive) way to remedy the issue. Would an African-American kid decide to follow baseball because its broadcast operations are based in Harlem? As opposed to watching football — whose studios are in (12 percent black) Culver City, California? Would anyone even know where the studios are, anyway? It’s no secret that baseball should do something to better appeal to the African-American community, but heaven help them if they think this is it. —Joe DeLessio
MLB Network’s Harlem plans an unnecessary distraction [SportsBusiness Journal]