SBD/September 20, 2012/Media

Fox, Turner Close To Renewal For MLB Packages; MLB Net Could Get LDS Games

Fox would continue to broadcast World Series games under the reported deal
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 the two will share the LCS. Changes will occur in the LDS, 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 (Ourand & Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).

TBS STILL SUPER? In N.Y., Richard Sandomir reports TBS will "get fewer games in its pending deal." TBS is to carry "only 13 Sunday afternoon games under the new contract, down from 26." The net also has "gotten extensive new digital rights that will help its newly acquired Bleacher Report site." Also, its Sunday games "will no longer be blacked out in the markets of the two teams that are playing" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/20). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Matthew Futterman notes, "During the past two years, the major sports organizations, popular teams and even college football conferences have been able to garner 60% to 100% increases in the guaranteed revenues they receive from media companies" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/20).
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