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THE PEACOCK IS BACK IN BASEBALL'S TV PICTURE
Published October 31, 1995
In a "surprise move," NBC has emerged as a "serious contender" to acquire a portion of the rights to MLB's broadcast TV package, according to Langdon Brockinton of INSIDE MEDIA. NBC would share the broadcast rights with Fox, which is said to have already agreed to a five-year deal with MLB that includes a Saturday afternoon game of the week (INSIDE MEDIA ONLINE, 10/31). The WALL STREET JOURNAL reports that NBC will pay close to $80M a year for a five-year deal, during which it will get two World Series. Fox is expected to pay more than $110M a year for Saturday games and three World Series (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/31). The N.Y. TIMES reports NBC will pay an estimated $100M a year, with Fox between $105-120M. Richard Sandomir writes of NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol's turn-around on baseball: "Watch Dick dance!" ABC and CBS were reportedly rejected for offering between $60-70M a year. CBS never responded to MLB's "demand for more" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/31). USA TODAY's Rudy Martzke estimates the total deal for baseball could be worth $1.15B to $1.175B. Fox would pay $110M a year and get the World Series in '96, '98 and 2000. NBC would pay $80M a year over five years for the Series in '97 and '99 and possibly a Friday night package (USA TODAY, 10/31). CABLE PACKAGE: ESPN and Turner will pay a combined $200- 225M to share six to ten games annually of the Divisional Series. Rudy Martzke reports ESPN's two-night regular-season package, which was in effect through '97, should be extended through 2000 at $43M a year. The post-season cable games will start at 1pm and 11pm ET, with Fox and NBC alternating 5pm and 8pm ET starts. Fox and NBC will alternate the ALCS and NLCS each year (USA TODAY, 10/31). However, Richard Sandomir reports that after '97, ESPN "will not be alone in regular-season national cable: TNT and Liberty Sports, a unit of Tele-Communications, will have schedules of games" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/31).