The 15 Fox regional sports networks holding local broadcast rights are close to an agreement with MLB to broadcast in-market games next season, as MLB has backed off from an insistence that MLB AM manage the streams.
It’s been a struggle for control of streaming rights between the regional sports networks paying big bucks to MLB team for broadcast rights and MLB AM officials, who were pushing for control of streaming. However, the breakthrough still gives some revenue to MLB AM — part of which will be reborn soon as BAM Tech — with the RSNs controlling the rights and the authentication tools. You probably won’t see Comcast, which controls six RNSs, make the same deal, as it already sports an impressive streaming technology division, handling streaming for the NBA and NBC Sports.
MLB moved off of its insistence that it host local games through MLB.com, something league executives wanted so they could ensure the quality of the video streams is high. But that stance proved the biggest roadblock to a deal, as cable operators would have needed to share subscriber data with the league during the user authentication process, something they were not willing to do.
Under the proposed Fox agreement, fans will be able to access games on Fox Sports RSN websites and the FoxSportsGo app, plus distributors’ websites and apps.
As part of the deal, MLB is requiring that Fox’s RSNs use MLB Advanced Media as the vendor to manage the live streams through its new stand-alone BAM Tech operation. Sources said the requirement, in addition to a rights fee that is around 4 percent of a team’s overall media deal, would cost RSNs in the mid-to-high seven figures per team.
This is a much smaller deal than MLB AM had been pushing; basically, BAM Tech will replace the likes of Anvato and Akamai on a technical level.