UPDATE, 12:56 PM: The eight-year agreement with Fox Sports Media Group is the second shoe to drop today in Major League Baseball’s renewal deals, following the one we reported earlier with Turner. When you add these agreements with the one that MLB previously struck with ESPN, the league says that it will see a 100% increase in its annual rights fees compared with its current deals. That jibes with earlier leaks about the terms. In the new arrangement, which begins in 2014, Fox will keep the World Series and All-Star Game and share the League Championship Series and Division series with TBS and MLB Network. Fox will be able to broadcast 52 regular season games nationally on Saturdays, up from 26, and Fox can air 12 of them exclusively. The network also agreed to air a weekly 30-minute show created by Major League Baseball Productions. The pacts include TV Everywhere rights. They also end blackouts that prevented subscribers of MLB Extra Innings and MLB.tv from watching Saturday out-of-market games. Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig says that “the unprecedented and historic commitment these networks have made to televising Major League Baseball for years to come is truly amazing.”
The big question now is whether the networks will be able to pass some of the new costs off to pay TV distributors — and, by extension, consumers who might have to pay higher monthly bills. The deals with Fox and Turner will cost $6.8B over the eight years, Sports Business Daily reports. That comes to an average of $525M a year for Fox, and $325M a year for Turner. “The plain truth is that these MLB deals will send monthly pay-TV bills streaking skyward,” says American Cable Association Matthew Polka. “They will make life hard for families whose incomes, hammered by the recession, can’t keep pace with the greed of broadcasters, cable networks and sports leagues. And these MLB deals follow the announcement of equally harmful deals between the National Football League and CBS, NBC, Fox and ESPN worth more than $42 billion.”
PREVIOUS, 8:59 AM: Turner Broadcasting System and MLB first did business with each other in 1973 and with this deal they say that they will have “one of the longest-running relationships between a media company and league in the history of televised sports.” The partners didn’t disclose financial terms for the new agreement, which begins in 2014. But it grants TBS digital and TV Everywhere streaming rights as well as footage for its web sites including The Bleacher Report which it acquired in August. Turner and Fox will continue to show American and National League championship series, with leagues alternating networks each year. Turner also will show two of the four division series, one wild card game, and afternoon games on the last 13 Sundays of the season.
Here’s the release:
Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. and Major League Baseball have reached an eight-year, media rights extension that will encompass a variety of screens and platforms it was announced today by MLB Commissioner Allan H. Selig and David Levy, President of Sales, Distribution and Sports, Turner Broadcasting. This new agreement builds on MLB’s long-standing relationship with Turner Sports and is highlighted by an extension of TBS’s television rights for the MLB postseason and the addition of co-exist rights for the network’s ‘Sunday MLB on TBS’ franchise. The agreement also features TV Everywhere rights and expanded digital rights for Turner’s portfolio.
The extended agreement, effective 2014 through 2021, will guarantee a 45-plus year continuous relationship between Turner and MLB, dating back to 1973 when the company began televising MLB games on WTCG (now TBS). The partnership represents one of the longest-running relationships between a media company and league in the history of televised sports. The current agreement between MLB and Turner, which started in 2007, will conclude following the 2013 season.
“Major League Baseball on TBS has been a staple of our programming foundation and the home to so many memorable baseball moments,” said Levy. “This agreement reflects our respect for one another’s business and the mutual regard we have with MLB.”
Selig added: “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. 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.”
Beginning with the 2014 MLB season, Turner’s expanded package will include the following television rights:
o TBS will have exclusive television rights to one League Championship Series each year of the agreement. As part of the deal, the ALCS and NLCS will alternate each year between TBS and Fox.
o TBS will have exclusive rights to broadcast two of the four MLB Division Series, which will alternate between AL and NL each year.
o TBS will carry one Wild Card Game, presented by Budweiser, which will alternate between the AL and NL each year.
o TBS will also air afternoon games with new co-exist rights on the final 13 Sundays of the regular season as part of the network’s ‘Sunday MLB on TBS’ Game of the Week package
“This new agreement adds considerable value to our portfolio of offerings,” adds Levy. “We’re pleased to extend our relationship with the MLB brand across multiple screens to create an even richer baseball experience for our viewers, advertisers and distribution partners.”
In addition to the television rights, the deal encompasses an expansion of Turner’s digital rights across a wide spectrum of screens and platforms including mobile, web, tablets and connected devices. The agreement also includes:
o TV Everywhere rights that will allow TBS to simulcast its MLB games and related programming across Turner platforms.
o Increased footage and highlights rights for Turner websites and applications. This includes Bleacher Report, which Turner Sports acquired in August 2012, and its popular Team Stream app.
o Interactive television rights. This includes the rights to create companion and ancillary products related to the TBS broadcast of regular and postseason games
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