Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association jointly announced today that MLB Network has been selected as the national telecast partner in the United States for the MLB Opening Series Sydney between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers. In addition, Nine Network, the highest-rated Australian network, will simulcast the two games in Australia while long-time MLB International partner, ESPN, will simulcast the games to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, Latin America and the Caribbean. The 2014 Championship Season will begin in Sydney, Australia on March 22nd and 23rd, 2014, when the Diamondbacks and the Dodgers play at the historic Sydney Cricket Ground.
The "MLB Network Special Presentation: Opening Series Sydney" will feature Matt Vasgersian and John Smoltz from MLB Network in the broadcast booth and commentary from Ian Chappell of Nine Network, a former Australia cricket captain and a member of the International Cricket Council Hall of Fame. MLB Network's telecasts will air in the U.S. on Saturday, March 22 with the first game live at 4:00 a.m. ET, immediately followed by a replay telecast at 7:00 a.m. ET, and the second game live at 10:00 p.m. ET. In Australia, ESPN will also exclusively broadcast the exhibition games that the Diamondbacks and Dodgers will play against Team Australia prior to the two regular season games.
"We are looking forward to working with MLB Network, Nine Network and ESPN to bring the MLB Opening Series Sydney to fans across the United States, in Australia and around the globe," said Paul Archey, Senior Vice President, International Business Operations, Major League Baseball. "MLB Network has done an outstanding job producing and covering baseball at the international level, including the 2009 and 2013 World Baseball Classic tournaments. With our commitment to growing the game around the world, the exposure baseball will receive on Nine Network and ESPN will allow both passionate fans and those who may be watching the game for the first time to experience baseball at the highest level."
"A major component of our efforts to grow the global popularity of the game is to increase the exposure of the events we stage by partnering with world-class TV outlets such as MLB Network, at home, and Nine Network and ESPN, abroad," said MLBPA Chief of Business Affairs, Tim Slavin. "We're confident each of these partners will help us grow our international fan base by shining a spotlight on the world's greatest baseball players as they open the 2014 Championship Season in Sydney, Australia."
"Coming off a successful telecast of the World Baseball Classic last year, MLB Network's coverage of the Opening Series Sydney at the start of a new season is another important milestone in giving fans premium live baseball games," said MLB Network President and CEO Tony Petitti.
"The Nine Network is excited to be a part of this historic sporting event," said David Gyngell, CEO of Nine Entertainment Company. "As the home of sport and event TV, it is a natural fit for the Nine Network and Wide World of Sports to bring this great game to Australian viewers."
"ESPN has a long and outstanding relationship with Major League Baseball that stretches a quarter century and we're thrilled to start the next 25 years by bringing fans in Australia and New Zealand the Opening Series of the Major League Baseball season," said Gus Seebeck, General Manager, ESPN Australia/New Zealand. "In addition to the game itself, we will deliver coverage around the game with authenticity and authority and provide fans a unique, one-off viewing experience that will put them right in the heart of the action by hosting an ESPN Fan Deck at the games."
The MLB Opening Series Sydney featuring the National League West rivals will be Major League Baseball's first regular season games to be staged in Australia. MLB has previously opened seasons in Monterrey, Mexico (1999); Tokyo, Japan (2000, 2004, 2008, 2012); and San Juan, Puerto Rico (2001).
MLB Opening Series Sydney will mark the 100th anniversary of exhibition games played by the Chicago White Sox and the New York Giants at the same sports venue where the 2014 Opening Series will be played. The White Sox defeated the Giants, 5-4, before 10,000 fans on January 3, 1914. Major League Baseball's history at the Sydney Cricket Ground dates to December 1888, when Spalding's World Tourists played a series of exhibition games, including a December 15, 1888 contest that attracted 5,500 spectators. The Sydney Cricket Ground will be fully renovated to a baseball configuration and Major League standards in advance of hosting MLB Opening Series Sydney.