THE PEACOCK IS BACK IN BASEBALL'S TV PICTURE
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
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).