Nationals will have games on DirecTV

Satellite service reaches deal with MASN to show 68 of team's '05 contests

April 30, 2005|By Jeff Barker | Jeff Barker,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - Washington Nationals fans, at least those who subscribe to DirecTV, can breathe easier. They finally can see more of their team's games on television.

The satellite service announced yesterday that it has reached a deal to carry 68 games via the MidAtlantic Sports Network, or MASN, which holds the team's broadcast rights and had been shopping for an outlet to show additional contests.

The 68 games are in addition to 67 games already scheduled to be aired on Washington station WDCA, which is also available over the air and on some cable systems in the Washington area.

The deal means that some Washington-area fans can now see 135 Nationals games. The announcement doesn't help fans who subscribe only to cable and have complained about the lack of games aired. But Nationals officials were pleased.

"We are delighted to have the majority of our games televised," Nationals president Tony Tavares said in a news release distributed by DirecTV and MASN.

As part of the deal, DirecTV will carry MASN around the clock beginning in March 2006. A big reason for the lack of TV exposure up to now is a dispute between MASN and Comcast.

Many Nationals fans had hoped the cable company would agree to carry more Nationals games this season other than the ones - almost half - being shown on WDCA.

But the prospects for that dimmed when Comcast filed suit recently against the Orioles, Major League Baseball and MASN. Comcast said in the suit that it owns the rights to produce and broadcast on local pay TV Orioles games through 2006. The dispute affects the Nationals - as well as the Orioles - because MASN has expressed an interest in the future broadcasts of both teams' games.

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