With the exclusive-bargaining window closed for its current media partners, Major League Baseball is reportedly fielding an offer from NBC Sports to join the broadcasting fold.
Right now there are three MLB broadcast partners: Fox, paying $257.1 million for Saturday, All-Star and World Series games; ESPN, paying $306 million for Sunday night games; and Turner, paying $148.6 million for regular-season and playoff games. All in all, some $711.7 million in broadcast rights goes into MLB coffers.
That number should exceed a billion once MLB squeezes some more out of existing partners and potentially adds NBC and NBC Sports Network to the mix. NBC hasn’t broadcast MLB games since 2000 and was once out of the major pro-sports market, but has come back strong in recent years, spending big for Olympics broadcasts and Sunday night NFL broadcasts on NBC, and NHL broadcasts on NBC Sports Network (the former Versus Network).
In any case, the presence of NBC will certainly make things interesting at the negotiating table. Nothing will be done quickly: look for talks to continue in the summer in anticipation of the 2014 season.
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