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Nats To Air on DC50

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The Nationals will have a new over-the-air partner in 2009, with 20 games to be shown on WDCW DC50.

All games will also be simulcast on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network or its overflow station, MASN2, marking the first time that over-the-air games will also be shown simultaneously on cable.

Nationals games had previously been shown on My 20, WDCA-TV in Washington, with some games on Fox 5. The 20 over-the-air games is a decrease from 30 last year.

The new arrangement does not include a rights fee for games, but includes a marketing arrangement in which MASN will promote the DC50 games in on-air and in-game advertising throughout the season. MASN is expected to spend in the low six-figures to help market the games.

DC50 will also show the “Nats Xtra” pre-game and post-game shows, which have been a part of the cable broadcasts since 2007.

The Nationals have gradually decreased their over-the-air exposure since arriving in Washington. The Nationals had 76 over-the-air game during their first year, when MASN was not yet widely distributed.

Despite the decline in over-the-air games, officials said the new marketing arrangement is expected to provide greater visibility for Nationals games, which struggled with low ratings much of last season. The Nationals were last in the major leagues in local television ratings last year, often drawing fewer than 10,000 viewers in the D.C. market.

“This provides more and better distribution of Nationals games throughout [Washington] and throughout the entire region,” MASN spokesman Todd Webster said. “It’s a marketing and promotional deal as well as a television deal and all of it will benefit the Nationals and their fans.”

A full schedule of games on DC50 will likely be released later this week, and will likely include most Sunday afternoon games.

- Tim Lemke

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