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Major League Baseball’s New Disney Deal Includes Streaming

Los Angeles Dodgers player Justin Turner during a 2019 regular season game.
(Image credit: Scott Clarke / ESPN Images)

The Walt Disney Co. and Major League Baseball said they reached a new seven-year rights deal that will keep baseball on ESPN and provides extensive streaming rights to simulcast games and stream other content on ESPN Plus.

The deal continues Disney’s push to get streaming rights for sports. It got expanded streaming rights in its recent deals with the National Football League and the National Hockey League.

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ESPN Plus will also continue to televise a Major League Baseball game nearly every day of the regular season, subject to local blackout restrictions, as well as select spring training coverage.

ESPN will be exclusively televise 30 exclusive regular season games per year, including 25 editions of Sunday Night Baseball and an opening day contest. ESPN may also get an expanded wild card playoff series beginning in 2022. Under the new deal, it will not air weekday games.

The deal includes increased highlight rights for ESPN platforms.

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“ESPN has been one of MLB’s longest and most important partners,” said baseball commissioner Rob Manfred.

“This extension continues the evolution of our relationship with a focus on utilizing ESPN’s extensive assets to shine a spotlight on key match-ups throughout the year. With reach across broadcast, cable, streaming, and social, ESPN is able to deliver MLB action to our broad fan base across multiple platforms. As the way in which fans consume baseball continues to change, this partnership provides expanded opportunities for fans to engage with our content and we are excited to present those new opportunities,” Manfred said.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“ESPN’s long standing relationship with Major League Baseball has been a driver of innovation for three decades,” said Jimmy Pitaro, chairman of ESPN and sports content for Disney.

“This agreement solidifies Baseball’s ubiquitous presence across ESPN platforms, including ESPN Plus. The impactful collection of exclusive content, including Sunday Night Baseball which has served as the signature MLB series for more than 30 years, will be amplified by the surrounding rights we have to make these live events even bigger. We thank commissioner Manfred and the MLB ownership group for their partnership and commitment as we collectively uncover new ways to serve fans,” Pitaro said.