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October 9, 2012

MLB's 8-Year Deal With Fox and Turner Doubles TV Rights Fees

As expected, MLB reached a new 8-year multiplatform deal starting '14 with Fox and Turner, following its agreement with ESPN in Aug. The deal, which will give MLB products more visibility across platforms, comes with a bigger price tag: combined with the ESPN contract, the league will earn $12.4bln over the 8 years, doubling the its previous TV rights fees, said MLB Commissioner Bud Selig on a conference call last week. The nets didn't reveal the financials, but Turner is reportedly paying $325mln/year while Fox is reportedly paying $520mln/year.

The deal also seems to position Fox well for a highly anticipated national sports network, with it allowed to put as many as 40 single game windows on a nationally distributed Fox channel. Fox is "continuing to evaluate the possibility of a national sports channel," said Randy Freer, co-pres, Fox Sports Media Group. "There will be a lot of things to come in the not too distance future," he said, declining to talk about the what-ifs of such a net.

As with the ESPN contract, the Fox and Turner deals include enhanced TV Everywhere and other digital rights—must-haves in sports deals these days. Turner will simulcast its MLB games and related programming across platforms. There will be increased footage and highlights rights for Turner Websites and apps, including Bleacher Report (acquired by Turner Sports in Aug) and the TeamStream app. Turner's interactive TV rights include the ability to create companion and ancillary products related to the net's broadcast or regular and postseason games. The digital rights are "in-depth," said Turner's David Levy, pres, sales, distribution and sports. Digitally for Fox, the broadcast net has the rights to stream all Fox televised games and MLB related programming in both regular and postseason.

Also under the agreement, Fox Deportes will continue to be the Spanish-language home to MLB, carrying all Fox televised games, including the All-Star Game, Division Series, LCS and World Series. On the linear side, Fox and Turner will continue to carry regular season and the majority of postseason. Fox retained the rights to popular events like the World Series, 1 League Championship Series, and the All-Star Game, and beginning in '14 it adds coverage of 2 Division Series. That same year Fox also doubles its Sat regular-season telecast windows from 26 to 52 and gains rights to develop MLB-branded programs.

Turner's expanded package includes 1 LCS each year of the agreement. As part of the deal, the ALCS and NLCS will alternate each year between Turner and Fox. Turner will have exclusive rights to air 2 of the 4 MLB Division Series, which will alternate between AL and NL each year. It will carry 1 Budweiser-sponsored Wild Card Game, which will alternate between the AL and NL each year. The net will also air pm games with new co-exist rights on the final 13 Sundays of the regular season as part of the net's "Sunday MLB on TBS " Game of the Week package.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story originally appeared in CableFAX Daily, our premium product. Go here to subscribe.







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