A $6.8 billion, eight-year media rights extension with Fox and Turner Sports, coupled with a deal already done with ESPN, gives Major League Baseball a huge financial security blanket through 2021.
Added together, the MLB will gain about $12.4 billion over the eight years starting in 2014. That is more that double its current standing deals.
“I have often said in recent years that we are living in the golden age of baseball and that the game has never been more popular,” commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. “But to see the unprecedented and historic commitment these networks have made to televising Major League Baseball for years to come is truly amazing.”
The agreement announced this morning keeps the World Series, All-Star game and one of the two league championship series on Fox, as well as giving the network more games in the divisional series starting in 2014. Fox is going to pay an average of $525 million a year for the extension.
In addition Fox will claim two exclusive windows for its weekly Saturday regular-season games, one at 1 p.m. PDT and another at 4 p.m. PDT. That doubles their national windows from 26 to 52. At least one of the two games each week will go to a Fox cable channel, most likely the soon-to-be-renamed Speed Channel.
TBS keeps the rights to the other league championship series, plus two division series and one of the wild-card games. TBS ends up paying about $325 million a year. The network will also cut its Sunday morning regular-season game schedule from 26 to 13 — the last 13 weeks of the season — and games will not be blacked out any longer in home markets.
ESPN agreed last month to a new extension through 2021 that will cost it about $700 million a season. It also has a wild-card game in the new deal.
The league-owned MLB Network will also keep the rights to two division series games, taking them from Fox’s allotment. MLB Network has two playoff games on the current schedule, including one this Sunday and one on Oct. 10, to be determined.
All the new deals include digital “TV Everywhere” rights to stream televised games and other MLB-related programming online and through mobile devices.