CBS could end up being part of a new package of rightsholders for MLB broadcasts or Fox could use an expanded rights buy to launch a new sports channel, as talks continue.
With ESPN doubling its financial commitment to MLB broadcasts, the bar was set for what MLB will expect from other bidders when the current Fox Sports and Turner Sports deals end at the end of the 2013 season.
More money puts more at stake for the rightsholders, and we’re seeing both Turner and Fox look at alternatives to leverage the investments. For TBS, it might mean bringing in CBS as a broadcast partner — a la the pair’s deal for the NCAA basketball tourney — to help pay for a deal that could include All-Star and World Series games. The Los Angeles Times calls this a long shot, but it’s still in play. Fox, on the other hand, may use a rights buy as anchor programming should its Fuel cable channel be expanded to a 24-hour sports network. And, of course, NBC is lurking in the wings.
One big issue with any of these bids: being able to deliver on network broadcasts of World Series games. MLB has set that as a priority, which is why Turner is wooing CBS and NBC debating a bid.
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