Ravens' partnership with MASN ends

Team president says alternate programming options are being explored

August 02, 2010|By David Zurawik and Jamison Hensley, The Baltimore Sun

MASN will no longer be the "official cable network" for the Ravens -- that much was confirmed and reported Monday on baltimoresun.com.

But the questions that remain include: What, if any, TV station or cable outlet will pick up the content the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network has carried in the past, such as coach Jim Harbaugh's weekly show? And what will it mean to the image and fortunes of MASN to have no relationship with the Ravens at a time of such heightened interest in the team -- particularly when the network's primary asset, the Orioles, is at one of its lowest points ever in terms of performance?

MASN and the Ravens were unable to reach an agreement, ending a partnership that began in 2006, Ravens president Dick Cass confirmed Monday. A source at MASN had told The Baltimore Sun last week that the sides were having trouble striking another deal.

"We've tried to work an arrangement with MASN along the lines with the arrangement we have had for the past four years, and we're unable to work it out," Cass said. "So we're pursuing alternatives."

MASN spokesman Todd Webster said the split was amicable.

"MASN remains a strong supporter of the Ravens' organization," he said. "We look forward to seeing them making another run to the playoffs."

As to life without the Ravens, Webster emphasized that MASN's two primary program providers, the Orioles and Washington Nationals, will be playing until early October, leading up to a slate of 40 Division I college football games and more than 200 college basketball matchups, including such area teams as Towson and UMBC.

"MASN will continue to do what it does, which is to televise local sports programming," Webster said.

The Ravens' preseason opener will be broadcast on WJZ and ESPN, and the other preseason games will continue to be broadcast on WBAL.

But the Ravens are working to keep airing the games in Harrisburg, Pa., the Eastern Shore and Washington -- areas that MASN reached.

"We hope to have that worked out in the next couple of days," Cass said. "We just want to make sure our fans in those areas get to see our preseason games."

The next step for the Ravens is to find a home for all of their weekday programs, which includes "One Winning Drive," "The John Harbaugh Show," "Game Plan," "Ravens Report" and "Purple Passion." Cass indicated that the team is in talks with another local station.

"We'll be on the air," he said. "We'll have an announcement on that in the next week."

Speculation centered on WBAL (Channel 11), the home of three of the Ravens' preseason games. One scenario had the weekday programs being carried on one of WBAL's digital channels where reruns of shows such as "Oprah" are now being carried.

None of the Baltimore stations owned or affiliated with networks -- WJZ, WBAL, WMAR or WBFF and WNUV -- could afford to carry such programming in prime time because of contractual agreements.

Of the stations contacted Monday afternoon by The Sun, only WBAL left the door open for picking up the MASN shows; general manager Jordan Wertlieb said, "We enjoy our relationship with the Ravens and are always looking for the opportunity to expand it."

Another possibility is Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic. Comcast would speak most directly to the the issue of reaching fans on the Eastern Shore and in Washington and Pennsylvania -- areas outside the dominant range of Baltimore TV broadcast stations.

"We have a strong relationship with the organization and have always provided coverage of the Ravens on our news shows and online, which we recently expanded with CSNbaltimore.com," said Rebecca Schulte, senior vice president and general manager of Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic. "But I am unable to comment on any additional Ravens programming at this time."

Baltimore Sun reporter Peter Schmuck contributed to this article.



Buy Ravens Gear

Clicking on Green Links will take you to a third-party e-commerce site. These sites are not operated by The Baltimore Sun. The Sun Editorial staff is not involved in any way with Green Links or with these third-party sites.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.