MLB to make TV, timing decisions on new playoff games
MLB this week during owners meetings in Arizona will wrestle with the mechanics of inserting an additional round of playoffs into the 2012 schedule, including how to televise the extra games.
The league and MLB Players Association in November, as part of a new five-year labor deal, agreed to an expanded postseason in which two wild card teams in each league would play a single-elimination game, with the winners advancing for League Division Series play. The new postseason plan will begin no later than 2013, but both sides would like to start the revised format this year, if possible.
A decision on the 2012 postseason schedule must be made by March 1. Given that this week marks the last set of owners meetings before that deadline and that broadcast plans must be made, a decision before that date is likely.
MLB executives, after announcing the plan, said they would begin talks on televising the two new playoff games with their existing television partners: ESPN, Turner Sports and Fox. Turner already holds exclusive rights for the League Division Series games, and it televises the League Championship Series games with Fox on an alternating basis between the American and National leagues.
|Turner currently holds rights to tie-breaking games, such as the Tigers-Twins AL Central game in 2009.
Under the league’s media contracts, Turner has held the right to carry tie-breaking games at the end of the regular season. Those rights came into play most recently when Minnesota and Detroit played for the AL Central Division crown in 2009.
In accordance with Turner’s contract, media industry sources expect the network to land the rights to the new round of play-in games, but they are waiting to hear definitively that the games are covered by Turner’s current deal.
In any event, the creation of new postseason baseball TV inventory represents a valuable addition for both the league and the network that ends up carrying it.
Also on the MLB meetings agenda is a vote on a shift of the San Diego Padres’ designated control executive from Chairman John Moores to Jeff Moorad, vice chairman and chief executive officer. Moorad, a former agent, and his investor group are in the midst of a multiyear plan to buy the Padres’ equity from Moores.
The San Diego change for its designated control executive — the appointed lead representative for the team with regard to league matters — will be the fourth such change in the league since the beginning of last season, following switches last year in San Francisco, Houston and Texas.