360AM — Morning news briefing for Friday, Mar. 30

In Demand has until 11:59pm tomorrow to sign a deal with MLB to sell its Extra Innings package on cable. Sports Business Daily this week reported that EchoStar‘s Dish Network is close to signing a deal. Today’s Philadelphia Inquirer says "negotiations among MLB, EchoStar and In Demand are continuing" as of yesterday and quotes MLB EVP Tim Brosnan: "We are trying to get everybody in. That is our goal." Update: A spokesperson for In Demand this afternoon commented: "Right now, the situation is that talks are continuing. In Demand would like to be able to offer Extra Innings to cable subscribers by the start of the season."

While MLB haggles over its out-of-market games package the league is touting its MLB.tv streaming subscription packages, where it’s hoping to lure baseball fans and Web video advertisers alike to its streaming services this season [Investor’s Business Daily]. Separately, and just in time for the regular season opener, Comcast (one of In Demand’s owners) is adding YES HD in Connecticut for area NY Yankees fans. Apple’s iTunes store will offer MLB video this season, featuring a daily 25-minute MLB.com Daily Rewind highlight show and two weekly Games of the Week: full versions of the best games from the National and American Leagues. iTunes will offer individual episodes from both for $1.99, or fans can purchase a $7.99 Multi-Pass for a month of Daily Rewind shows or a $19.99 Season Pass to receive the entire Games of the Week package.



Analysts speculate that Liberty Media‘s next move will be to buy out Advance/Newhouse‘s stake to acquire the remaining 1/3 of Discovery Communications, assuming yesterday’s proposed buyout of Cox’s stake in the programmer is approved. [Washington Post | New York Times | Hollywood Reporter]

Need a quick refresher on Tony, Carm, AJ, Med & Co. before HBO starts unrolling The Sopranos‘ eight-episode finale on April 8? Some wiseguy on YouTube has posted The (Seven Minute) Sopranos, a 7-minute recap of all 77 episodes. Warning: it’s crude, but hey — whaddya expect?

AT&T received a statewide video franchise by California’s PUC. [Release]

BusinessWeek‘s Apr. 9th cover story asks: "Is Google Too Powerful?" Its $144 billion market value (more than that of Time Warner, Viacom, CBS, advertising giant Publicis and the New York Times Co. combined) is being used to redefine advertising, publishing, media television, software distribution and a host of other businesses. But Google CEO Eric Schmidt attributes any fears and backlash to "resentment." As he says in an online Q&A that accompanies the story, "We’re not competing with newspapers, we’re not competing with television stations, we’re not competing with the Viacoms of the world. We’re trying to partner with them." Schmidt comments on the latter company’s copyright infringement lawsuit against YouTube: "Viacom has a history of litigation. I think it’s being used in the media as some overarching statement of everything. And it’s an important set of issues. But we’re very, very clear that what we’re doing is correct legally under the DMCA" or Digital Millennium Copyright Act. NBCU is launching a rival Web video portal with News Corp. this summer, for which AOL‘s Advertising.com is handling ad duties—not Google’s AdSense.

FEARnet, the horror programmer owned by Comcast, Sony and Lionsgate, signed Sam Raimi to produce its first two original series. Devil’s Trade bows in June while the second series (pegged to upcoming vampire flick 30 Days of Night) will premiere before that film’s October release. Each ad-supported series will feature seven episodes (3-5 minutes each) that will run online, on Comcast VOD and on mobile via Comcast’s Pivot wireless brand (Boost Mobile struck a wireless advertising deal for Devil’s Trade). FEARnet is planning 2-3 more original shortform series this year and is eyeing a feature-length projects. [Variety] Kagan profiles FEARnet here.

USA Today interviews NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol about the Beijing Summer Olympics. Expect 700-1,000 hours of live online action, the first live Olympic action ever available in the U.S., and it’s exclusively on broadband. "The vast majority will be stuff that’s never been seen (on TV) before," says Ebersol. "Every single sport will be available, the vast majority in their totality." The Olympic world TV feed, shooting every second of Olympic action and available to every TV network paying to air the Games, offers about 3,000 hours of action. At the 2004 Games, NBCU’s channels carried 1,210 TV hours; Ebersol expects at least that many hours from Beijing. "We’re not diminishing our cable package," he said. "All the key events seen on cable will remain on cable."

WWE‘s annual WrestleMania PPV is Sunday in Detroit: click here for our exclusive behind-the-scenes video on the affiliate marketing and production that goes into cable’s biggest PPV of the year. Seth Arenstein reviews this weekend’s cable programming including Showtime’s The Tudors and A&E’s Sons of Hollywood, both premiering Sunday  — click here.

Comcast announced its telephony launch in Sacramento and central California; first time the company has touted the service as "IP-enabled phone" and not as Comcast Digital Voice.

Shirley Brady

• Click here for 360AM news briefing for Thursday, Mar. 29 >>

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