SBD/Issue 198/Sports Media

MLB Officially Announces New TV Deals With Fox, Turner

Fox Retains Exclusive Rights To
World Series In New Deal With MLB

MLB yesterday officially announced its new seven-year TV rights deals with Fox and Turner Broadcasting. Under the new deals, Fox gets exclusive annual rights to the All-Star Game and the World Series, as well as the ALCS in odd years and the NLCS in even years. The net will also expand its “Fox Saturday Baseball Game of the Week” coverage to up to 26 weeks per season. TBS will telecast all regular-season tie-breaker games, all LDS games and the All-Star Game Selection Show each year. In addition, beginning in ’08, TBS will telecast a window of MLB games on 26 Sunday afternoons. The Sunday games will be blacked out in the local markets of the competing teams. TBS can air as many as 13 games of any single team. TBS beginning in ’08 will reduce its Braves schedule from 70 games to 45 and will air the games locally rather than nationally (THE DAILY).

RIGHTS FEES: The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER’s Paul Gough cites sources as saying that Fox will pay an average of $250M annually, down from the $417M it has been paying, and that Turner will pay $120M a year (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 7/12). However, the WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Brian Steinberg cites sources as saying that TBS will pay around $70M annually. One source said that MLB “expects to secure more than $3[B] over seven years from the Fox and TBS deals combined with payments from the remaining games to be sold (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/12). Fox Sports President Ed Goren said, “Our rights fees are significantly less than what we’d been paying. But going to cable TV, with its revenues from ads and subscribers, MLB could reach its revenue targets” (USA TODAY, 7/12). Goren added, “Fox has won the adults 18-49 race two years running. [Fox Entertainment President] Peter Liguori and his team has to figure out how to make the most out of postseason baseball. It makes sense to pre-empt fewer nights and create more windows for his schedule while retaining the promotional power of postseason baseball” (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 7/12).

TBS Ending Three Decades
Of National Braves Programming
CABLE: USA TODAY’s Michael Hiestand notes TBS has exclusivity for LDS games. MLB Exec VP/Business Tim Brosnan said that the “number of homes without cable TV ‘shrinks daily’ but if MLB ‘heard enormous backlash’ about games being unavailable on free TV, then ‘we’d go back and adjust.’” Turner Sports President David Levy said TBS getting exclusivity “was one of the key ingredients in the deal for us” (USA TODAY, 7/12). Levy added that in the event of “overlapping division series games, ... some could be shifted to TNT” (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 7/12). Brosnan also said that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig had “earmarked the second LCS for cable,” and in N.Y., Richard Sandomir notes Fox, TBS and ESPN “remain candidates.” Goren suggested, “There is some interest in the possibility of working out a deal to televise those games in some kind of partnership.” Levy said TBS’ interest in the LCS is “very high if we get the right financial model.” Levy “hopes that if TBS acquires the LCS, it would carry the games exclusively” (N.Y. TIMES, 7/12). ESPN VP/Corporate Information Diane Lamb said ESPN was talking with MLB about the remaining LCS package, adding, “We’re interested in deals that provide good value” (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 7/12).

WORLD SERIES: Selig said of the decision to move World Series Game One to a Tuesday night instead of the current Saturday night start under the new deal, “For years, we started on a weekend and everyone grumbled to me — that Saturday night is a tough television night. ... We’re going to do it Tuesday and Wednesday, off Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, off Monday, then Tuesday and Wednesday. It’s a better fit” (DETROIT NEWS, 7/12).

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