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Free preview expands MLB Network's subscriber roster to 90 million

When the first pitch of the second game of the National League Division Series between the Chicago Cubs and the San Francisco Giants is thrown out at Wrigley Field on Oct. 8, the game will be available to a record number of MLB Network (US) subscribers.

As part of a free preview that began on Oct. 6 and extends through Oct. 11, MLB Network has expanded its roster to more than 90 million subscribers from 67 million, according to a spokeswoman.

In addition to the Cubs-Giants' Game 2 presentation, subscribers will be able to catch the rest of MLB Network's playoff coverage, including highlights and analysis, as well as Game 3 of the other National League Division Series in which the Washington Nationals will visit the Los Angeles Dodgers on Oct. 10. Game time has yet to be determined.

"This is the fifth year MLB Network will televise a pair of Division Series games and this is our biggest free preview to date," said the spokeswoman. Both game telecasts are presented by Geico.

The preview is being offered by AT&T Inc.'s DIRECTV and U-verse video services, Comcast Corp., DISH Network Corp., Cox Communications Inc., Verizon Communications Inc.'s FiOS, Cablevision Systems Corp. and Frontier Communications Corp., among other network affiliates, which are opening the network to more highly subscribed channel packages during the free preview period.

With the expanded subscriber base and its exclusive presentation into the four large DMAs of the four remaining National League playoff teams, MLB Network could take aim at the 1.8 million viewers for Game 3 of the 2014 NLDS series matching the Giants and the Nationals, the service's most-watched game to date.

MLB Network said it averaged 251,000 viewers for its game telecasts during the 2016 campaign, the second-best mark in its history behind the 260,000 average audience in 2015, but up 11.6% from 225,000 watchers in 2014.

MLB Network's NLDS telecasts will showcase the debut of Pitchcast tracking of every offering as part of the Statcast data from MLB Advanced Media LP's tracking technology. The games will also feature Shift Trax, a real-time defensive alignment graphic to provide live and in-depth metrics about every play in the field. The telecasts, displaying the split-screen format during commercial breaks that have been in play on MLB Network Showcase games throughout the 2016 regular season, will also be augmented by enhanced audio at each base, as well as Phantom and X-Mo camera technology to bolster replay resolution.