Skip to main content

MLB Announces New Rights Deals With Fox, Turner

Updated 1:15 pm. ET

Major League Baseball officially announced its new
eight-year media rights deal with Fox and Turner on Tuesday, securing its
national TV partners through the 2021 season. The league renewed its agreement with its other
national broadcast partner, ESPN, in August.

The current deals end after next season.

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said on a conference call with
the media that the league will earn a combined $12.4 billion over the eight
years, between Fox, Turner and ESPN, a more than 100% increase. Reports state that Fox will pay $525 million
per year and Turner will fork over $325 million yearly.

"The value of these deals is a manifestation of how far
this sport has come," Selig added. "Fox and Turner have played very
significant roles in the growth of Major League Baseball."

Fox Sports Media Group will keep its rights for the World
Series, All-Star Game and doubles its Saturday "Game of the Week"
slate from 26 to 52, two per Saturday. Of those 52, 45 will air in Fox's
exclusive Saturday window.

In addition, Fox will gain rights to two of the four
division series; TBS had previously held rights to all four. The American and
National League Championship Series will alternate each year between TBS and
Fox, as had been done in previous years. The two division series that Fox and
Turner will air will also rotate between the NL and AL each year. 

The deal also removes Saturday blackouts of out-of-market
games for MLB Extra Innings and MLB.TV

As part of the agreement, Fox will sell two division series
games each year to MLB Network, which kicks off its inaugural postseason
coverage next week. The league-owned network will begin airing the All-Star Futures
Game and the MLB All-Star Game Selection Show starting in 2014. FSMG also gains
rights to develop MLB-branded programs, expanded footage and highlights for
linear and digital platforms, TV Everywhere and Spanish-language rights.

"Baseball, both nationally and regionally, has been part of
our DNA here at Fox for a long time, and we're looking forward to working with
MLB on many new initiatives that will grow and promote the sport in coming
years," said FSMG copresidents Eric Shanks and Randy Freer in a statement.

FSMG will also gain as many as 40 additional single game
windows, to air on a nationally distributed Fox channel, paving the way for its
rumored all-sports network, Fox Sports One. Freer, however, was non-committal about the
potential network. "Throughout this deal we have flexibility on
distribution of the games," he said. "We continue to evaluate the
potential for a national sports channel," before adding that they "haven't
announced anything yet." There was also talk of the league enveloping Turner's games
into Fox's new deal, which would have been used to launch the potential network.

Turner, meanwhile, not only loses two of its division
series, but will also see TBS' Sunday afternoon slate decrease from 26 to 13 as
part of its new "coexist" rights, which removes blackouts in the
teams' local markets. The 13 games all will be during the final three months of
the season.

TBS, which currently airs both games of the
newly-implemented Wildcard Round, will only air one under the new agreement,
alternating between AL and NL. ESPN will air the other. Turner's digital rights, however, increase to
include more footage and highlight rights for its new property, Bleacher Report
and interactive television rights. Like Fox, Turner gains TV Everywhere rights
that allow TBS to simulcast its MLB games and related programming across Turner

"Baseball on TBS has been a staple of our programming
foundation for more than 35 years," said David Levy, president, sales,
distribution and sports for Turner Broadcasting System. "When you look at
the overall scope of [the] television and digital rights that we've acquired,
this new agreement adds considerable value to our portfolio."

With more nationally televised games and the removal of the
local blackouts, regional sports networks could suffer. Selig said he doesn't
believe the new agreements will affect RSNs "any more than it has in the
past decade," but added that "there may be a little variation between
here and there."