October 2, 2012
Major League Baseball more or less spun the wheel and hit the jackpot on Oct. 2 when the league announced that it had signed a new eight-year national television and media-rights deal with broadcasters TBS and FOX.
The league also recently worked out a new contract with ESPN and when you combine the three of them, will be raking in a total of $12.4 billion over the next eight seasons, which is more than double the worth of the current broadcasting contracts. The deal that was made between MLB and ESPN in September will run from 2014 up until 2021 and it will see the network fork out about $700 million each year as opposed to $360 million on the current contract.
The new arrangements with FOX and TBS also begin in the 2014 baseball season. The annual All-Star Game and the World Series will both be shown on the FOX network along with one League Championship Series and two Division Series. The other playoff series will be shared by the MLB Network, TBS, and FOX. In addition, the new deals will see games and other baseball-related programming streamed on mobile devices.
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said it’s been a great year for baseball so far in so many aspects, including the new television contracts. He said there have been seven no-hitters in the league this year, which ties the MLB record, and there could also be a triple crown winner as Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers has a chance of winning the batting title, home-run crown and being the RBI leader. As of Oct. 2, Cabrera had a batting average of .329 along with 44 home runs and 137 RBIs.
Selig said the league has also seen some incredible rookies this season such as Mike Trout and the playoff races have been better than anyone could have imagined. On top of that, there will be playoff baseball in Washington DC for the first time in the last 79 years as the Nationals won the National League East division. Selig added that attendance increased this year and it’s been the best since 2008 and the leagues are very competitive. He went on to mention that revenue is at an all-time high and there are no labor problems to upset the game.
Selig feels baseball is continuing to grow in popularity and that FOX and TBS have been major players in this area. What he failed to mention though, was that several high-profile players received major suspensions this season for failing drug tests. These include Melky Cabrera of the San Francisco Giants, Bartolo Colon of the Oakland Athletics, Freddy Galvis of the Philadelphia Phillies, and free agent Marlon Byrd, who all received 50-game bans. Meanwhile Guillermo Mota of the Giants was suspended for 100 games on May 5 for testing positive for steroids. What could also be embarrassing for the league is that the suspended Cabrera has a great shot at winning the NL batting title with a .346 average.
Eric Shanks of FOX said his company is extremely pleased to continue working with Major League Baseball for at least eight more years and is looking forward to helping promote the sport as much as it can. David Levy of TBS echoed those sentiments when he said his network has had a great relationship with Major League Baseball for over 35 years and has been fortunate enough to broadcast many memorable and historical moments over that period time.
There were several highlights of the new deals announced which include: Saturday games on FOX that were previously blacked out to viewers of MLV TV and MLB Extra Innings will now be able to be seen starting with the 2014 season. Also, the MLB Network will show two Division Series contests as well as the selection show for the All-Star Game and All-Star Futures Game on SiriusXM. Tony Petitti, who is the CEO of the MLB Network, said Selig is showing that he wants the network to grow by adding games and other programming to it.
With bucket loads of cash being poured into MLB, as usual, the league said that all 30 teams will profit from the new television deals as the money will be shared between them equally. Others who may profit from the deals could be current television announcers who call the games. Shanks said that FOX broadcasters Tim McCarver and Joe Buck are still working under the current contract and will be working the National League Championship Series and World Series as usual.
He added that FOX hasn’t discussed contract extensions with its broadcasters yet, but that could very well happen in the near future. It’s also believed that FOX may soon be launching a new all-sports television channel and that may affect how the baseball games are broadcast. If a new national sports channel is introduced, the network will have more flexibility when it comes to distributing its content and the games.