Comcast Will Air Nats Games, Ending Dispute

By Arshad Mohammed and Thomas Heath
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, August 5, 2006

Washington Nationals fans in the Baltimore-Washington region will be able to watch the Major League Baseball team's games on Comcast as soon as Sept. 1 after the sports network that carries most of the games settled its bitter 15-month dispute yesterday with the cable company.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed by Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, the Nationals' home network, or by Comcast Corp., the nation's largest cable company and the dominant provider in the Washington region.

Under the deal, 1.6 million Comcast subscribers in the Baltimore-Washington corridor will be able to view the games starting in September, while another 600,000 people in more distant parts of Western Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania will get access to the games over the next two years.

"Bravo. It's about time. This is great news for the fans who have welcomed the Nationals to DC and want to watch [Alfonso] Soriano on TV as he bangs in those runs," District Mayor Anthony A. Williams said in a statement.

Mid-Atlantic said Comcast would start airing the baseball games in most of the region on Sept. 1.

But a person close to Comcast said the date might slip because the company has to give notice to channels it bumps to make space for Mid-Atlantic. The source spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of such contracts.

The Nationals immediately applauded the agreement, which will dramatically increase their television exposure.

"From the very first day our group was named as the owners, we said getting all of our games to all of our fans was the highest priority. This is a very, very positive development in that regard," said Stan Kasten, the team's president.

The agreement appeared to be a major victory for Mid-Atlantic, which, in addition to getting Comcast to carry the network in most of the region, also got it to agree to drop its related lawsuit over the TV rights to the Baltimore Orioles, Mid-Atlantic said.

"This is great news for sports fans throughout the mid-Atlantic region," Peter Angelos, managing partner of the Orioles and majority owner of Mid-Atlantic, said in a statement. "We are pleased to have reached this agreement with Comcast, which will allow both the Nationals and the Orioles to maximize their exposure throughout the territory."

"Comcast is pleased to have reached an agreement with MASN. We've always wanted to bring the Nationals to Comcast customers," Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen said in a statement.

For all the kind words, the two sides had fought over the issue in and out of court for more than a year.

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