SBD/Closing Bell

Fox, Turner To Renew MLB Packages; MLB Net Could Get LDS Games

MLB is close to finalizing deals with Fox and Turner that would tie up the league’s media rights through '21. Contracts have not been signed yet, but the sides have agreed on the main points, sources said. Similar to MLB’s ESPN deal, which was signed late last month, Fox and Turner have agreed to eight-year deals worth more than double what the two media companies were paying previously. That means Fox will pay around $4B over eight years (close to $500M per year) and Turner will pay around $2.8B over eight years (more than $300M per year). Including the $700M per year ESPN agreed to pay, MLB’s total haul from media rights will average $1.55B per year over the next eight years, more than double its current take. A formal announcement is expected to come next week.

Essentially, Fox and Turner will keep their current packages. That means that Fox will broadcast the World Series and Fox and TBS will share the League Championship Series. Changes will occur in the League Divisional Series, which the two will split. Previously, TBS carried all four LDS. Fox will carry some of the games on its planned all-sports channel, Fox Sports One, which is likely to be a re-branded version of Speed. Sources also say it is possible that Fox will sell some LDS games to MLB Network, which has been looking to increase the amount of playoff games it shows. TBS will carry one Wild Card game; ESPN has the other. Fox will keep its Saturday baseball game, alternating it between the broadcast channel and Fox Sports One. TBS will keep its Sunday afternoon game.

During the bidding process, which heated up this summer, NBC and CBS had looked into acquiring a package. And MLB had considered combining the Fox and Turner packages into one before opting to renew both deals. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, who would not confirm the deals, said of the league essentially doubling its rights fees across the board, "The ESPN deal was remarkable, and I'm very confident we'll get to a similarly good place with the other deals soon. This is just another big manifestation on the popularity of the sport."
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