ESPN locks down historic MLB agreement
Major League Baseball (MLB) and ESPN have finalised the largest broadcasting deal in MLB history after the two parties agreed an extension to 2021.
The new agreement, said to be worth some US$5.6 billion over its eight-year term, will take the association between MLB and ESPN into its fourth decade as the broadcaster began airing top-level baseball in 1990.
According to a statement released by MLB on Tuesday, ‘This deal sets a new standard for Major League Baseball broadcasting as ESPN’s annual rights fee will increase by 100 per cent over its current deals.’
Under the new contract, which covers television and radio rights both in the US and internationally, ESPN will significantly increase its in-studio and game content, with up to 90 regular season games per year set to be shown across the ESPN networks from 2014.
ESPN will continue to televise three MLB programmes each week on Monday nights, Wednesday nights, and on Sundays when the broadcaster will air the “Sunday Night Baseball” franchise exclusively across the US.
Meanwhile, post-season baseball will return to ESPN from 2014, with coverage of one of the two Wild Card Games presented by Budweiser. Coverage will alternate each year between American League and National League Wild Card Games. Additionally, ESPN has been granted the rights to all potential regular season tiebreaker games.
Furthermore, ESPN has committed to showcasing each of the 30 MLB clubs at least once per season through live television coverage. The broadcaster will also be able to show its entire baseball programming online and on mobile.
MLB commissioner Bud Selig (pictured) said of the historic agreement: “On behalf of Major League Baseball, I am thrilled that we will continue our long-standing relationship with ESPN far into the future. The level of ESPN’s commitment to baseball – both financially and through its expanded content – is a testament to the strength of our game and its unprecedented popularity among our fans.”
“Through its various networks and other media platforms, ESPN offers baseball fans more avenues to experience the game than ever before, and we’re thankful for their continued support,” added Selig.
ESPN president John Skipper also commented: “We’re thrilled to renew our long-standing agreement with Major League Baseball into the next decade. It’s a great property. The enormous scope of what we acquired will provide fans with more live baseball and more ways to access baseball content than ever before.”
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- Length of contract: 8 years
- Annualised value: US$700 million
- Overall value: US$5.6 billion
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