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New MLB TV contracts finalized: $1.5B annually

Major League BaseballWe have a final tally on the new TV contracts signed between Major League Baseball and broadcast partners ESPN, Fox Sports and TBS: an average of $1.5 billion annually, or $12.4 billion over eight years.

The deal between ESPN and MLB was made public earlier — $700 million annually, totaling $5.6 billion over eight years— and we now have a public announcement of the new contracts with Fox Sports and TBS. Fox will up its commitment to MLB with more playoff games and an average annual payment of $525 million per year, while Turner Sports will scale back its baseball coverage but will still pay $325 million per year.

Combined, the three deals will deliver more than a 100 percent increase in annual rights fees to Major League Baseball over the current deals.  As part of the new agreements – which take effect beginning in 2014 – the World Series and All-Star Game will remain on Fox, while the League Championship Series and Division Series will be shared across Fox, TBS and MLB Network. Both deals also include digital “TV Everywhere” rights to stream televised games and other MLB-related programming online and through mobile devices.

Under the terms of the new agreements, Fox Sports will retain the rights to the World Series, the All-Star Game and one League Championship Series while adding coverage of two Division Series starting in 2014. Fox Sports will also double its number of regular season national windows on Saturdays from 26 to 52, with 12 of those windows exclusive to Fox and as many as 40 non-exclusive windows on another nationally distributed Fox channel — which could be FX or the much-rumored Fox Sports channel designed as a competitor to ESPN. TBS will retain the rights to air one League Championship Series, two Division Series and one of the Wild Card Games. TBS will also air afternoon games with new co-exist rights on the final 13 Sundays of the regular season. Fox and Turner will alternate each year which league’s DS and LCS games they telecast, with MLB Network airing two Division Series games each year from the same league as Fox. 

“I have often said in recent years that we are living in the golden age of baseball and that the game has never been more popular,” said Commissioner Bud Selig said: “But to see the unprecedented and historic commitment these networks have made to televising Major League Baseball for years to come is truly amazing.  On behalf of Major League Baseball, I am thrilled that we will continue our relationships with both FOX and Turner.  Both networks are passionate about baseball and are committed to covering, promoting and growing the sport, and I want to thank them for their continued support.”

“It is with tremendous pleasure that we’re able to extend and advance our relationship with Major League Baseball for another eight years,” said Randy Freer and Eric Shanks, co-presidents, Fox Sports Media Group.  “MLB, both nationally and regionally, has been part of our DNA here at FOX for a long time, and we’re looking forward to working with MLB on many new initiatives that will grow and promote the sport in coming years.”

“Major League Baseball on TBS has very much been a staple of our programming foundation for more than 35 years and the network has been the home to so many memorable baseball moments over that time,” said David Levy, President of Sales, Distribution and Sports, Turner Broadcasting System.  “When you look at the overall scope of television and digital rights that we acquired, this new agreement adds considerable value to our portfolio of sports offerings.” 

Additional highlights of the new agreements include:

  • Games included in the Fox Saturday national exclusive windows, which were previously blacked out to MLB Extra Innings and MLB.TV viewers, will be available beginning in 2014.
  • In addition to two Division Series games, MLB Network has also acquired the rights to telecast both the MLB All-Star Game Selection Show and the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.
  • Turner will have interactive television rights, which includes the rights to create companion and ancillary products related to the TBS broadcast of regular and postseason games.
  • Fox Sports will air a weekly 30-minute show created by Major League Baseball Productions.

One interesting thing to pop up during discussions of the deal with the press: Fox hasn’t signed Joe Buck and Tim McCarver to contract extensions. Their deals end at the conclusion of the 2013 season.

RELATED STORIES: Fox, Turner retain broadcast rights; NBC shut outMore bidders emerging for MLB TV rights?ESPN doubling rights fees for MLBNBC vying for piece of MLB media-rights pie?


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