The Dodgers on Wednesday announced their new television network, SportsNet LA, will launch on Feb. 25, a poorly kept secret to this point. In addition, the club finalized the on-air talent for the new channel.
The network is part of a 25-year contract with Time Warner Cable reportedly worth north of $8 billion. Now it becomes a race for the network to be picked up by cable and satellite carriers in time for the launch.
The launch date is one day before the Dodgers open their spring training schedule in Arizona, against the Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale. The Dodgers will televise every spring training game in the new network.
Programming information hasn't yet been revealed but the Dodgers say there will be "never-before-seen content, and thousands of hours of comprehensive Dodger programming," including live and classic games, original programs and studio shows.
Most notable among the new hires is Orel Hershiser, the longtime Dodgers pitcher who spent the last seven years broadcasting with ESPN. Hershiser will serve as analyst alongside play-by-play man Charley Steiner in games not called by Vin Scully, which is basically everything outside of California and Arizona. In addition Hershiser will appear on pre and postgame show in other games.
In 2013 Eric Collins and Steve Lyons called 47 of the 50 non-Scully road games, with the other three contests broadcast nationally by either ESPN or Fox. In 2014, the Dodgers have 51 scheduled road games outside of California and Arizona.
In addition to Hershiser, the Dodgers added Nomar Garciaparra, Jerry Hairston Jr., Alanna Rizzo and John Hartung to the broadcast team for pre- and post-game duties.
Garciaparra, who played for the Dodgers from 2006-2008, worked most recently at ESPN. In addition to his TV work, Garciaparra will step in alongside Rick Monday on radio broadcasts when Steiner calls games on TV.
Hairston transitions into television after playing for the Dodgers in 2013, the final season of his 16-year career.
Rizzo comes from MLB Network, where she spent the last two years. Prior to that, the Colorado native worked for ROOT Sports. For the Steiner/Hershiser games Rizzo will be the in-game reporter.
Hartung joins the crew after 11 years at ABC as a weekend co-anchor and part-time sports anchor. He will serve as studio host.
Here are a few reactions on Twitter from the particulars:
It's great to officially be back in Blue! I'm thrilled to be joining the best broadcast team in sports. @SportsNetLA is only a month away.— Orel Hershiser (@OrelHershiser) January 22, 2014