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Time Warner Inc.’s Turner Broadcasting will televise the two extra playoff games added to Major League Baseball’s 2012 and 2013 postseasons.
Baseball’s postseason is expanding to 10 teams from eight starting this year by adding a one-game wild-card playoff in each league. The extra playoff tier was agreed to in baseball’s labor contract approved in December.
Baseball’s television contracts with TBS, News Corp.’s Fox network and Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN runs through the 2013 season. Fox will televise this year’s World Series and the National League Championship Series, while TBS will broadcast the American League Championship Series and 18 of the 20 potential division series games.
“The additional single-elimination wild card spots will build upon the popularity of the sport and will serve as a great launching pad for our Division Series and ALCS coverage on TBS,” David Levy, president of sales, distribution and sports for Turner Broadcasting, said in a statement.
MLB Network will also televise two division series games in each of the next two years, the league said today, marking the first time it will air live postseason games.
Under the new format, five teams each from the American and National leagues will be in the playoffs, meaning one-third of the sport’s 30 teams qualify for the postseason. It’s the first change to the format since 1994.
The three division winners in each league will get a first- round bye, while the two non-division winners with the best records will meet to decide the final spot in each league. If the format was in place a year ago, the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox would have met in the one-game playoff in the AL. The Red Sox missed the postseason in 2011 after finishing one game behind the Rays in the AL East at 90-72.
In a departure from past postseason rules, the winner of the one-game wild-card playoff will advance to face the league’s top team regardless of whether those two teams play in the same division. Using last year as an example, the winner of the Rays- Red Sox wild-card would have faced the AL East-champion New York Yankees, who had the league’s best record at 97-65. Previous rules prohibited wild-card winners from playing within their own division to open the playoffs.
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