ESPN and Major League Baseball agreed to an eight-year extension of their multiplatform rights deal on Tuesday. The new agreement begins in 2014 and runs through 2021.
Terms were not disclosed, but MLB commissioner Bud Selig said on a conference call with reporters that it was more than double the previous deal.
The new pact is highlighted by the addition of an annual Wild Card game, which begins play this season; TBS holds the rights to these games in 2012 and 2013. This will be the first time ESPN will broadcast an MLB playoff game since 2006. The network also gains rights to any regular-season tiebreaker games, if necessary.
"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," said John Skipper, president of ESPN Inc. and co-chairman of Disney Media Networks.
ESPN also gains 10 additional regular-season broadcasts, fewer blackouts in local markets and an increase in the amount that teams can appear on national television. The network will also produce a new daily MLB studio show and be able to show in-progress highlights on SportsCenter.
Added Selig: "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."
MLB's other rights holders, Turner and Fox are also renegotiating their contracts, with both set expire after 2013. "We are in the process of working on them," said Selig, who added that he hopes those will get done soon.
The deal was first reported by Sports Business Journal's John Ourand.
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