ESPN signs an eight-year, $5.6 billion deal to keep baseball

43 Comments

We talked about lucrative local TV rights yesterday. Let’s talk national: ESPN just agreed to pay Major League Baseball nearly double what it’s paying now to keep baseball rights through 2021:

ESPN has agreed to a deal that locks down MLB rights into the next decade, according to several sources. The eight-year deal is worth $5.6B (an average of $700M per year), approximately doubling the nearly $306M ESPN currently pays MLB every year for domestic TV rights.

That includes digital, radio and, for the first time, the playoffs: one wild card game. Otherwise the deal is basically the same: Sunday Night Baseball and Monday and Wednesday night games.

The current deals with ESPN, Fox and TBS are in place through the end of the 2013 season. As the New York Times reported in July, there is a frenzy afoot, with those three outlets still wanting to keep their games, plus NBC wanting to get in on the action. Clearly those remaining will be in frenzied bidding for the Saturday and Sunday afternoon games, the postseason and any other national products that may be added over and above what exists now.

That’s a recipe for skyrocketing rights fees. And we just saw the first rocket launched.

UPDATE: Putting this money in perspective. Short version: windfall.

Tuesday’s Rays-Orioles game postponed due to rain

Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Orioles announced that Tuesday night’s game against the Rays at Camden Yards has been postponed due to rain. The game will be made up as part of a single-admission doubleheader on May 12 at 3:05 PM. The second game will begin about 30 minutes after the first game finishes.

As Weather.com noted recently, Major League Baseball has already seen a record number of weather-related postponements this month, at least dating back to 1986.

According to Jayson Stark of The Athletic, as of April 19 when he wrote this column, there had been only four days where all 30 teams managed to play on the same day. Stark also pointed out that, at the time he published his article, there had been 27 games with first-pitch temperatures in the 30’s. There was one such game last year, eight in 2016, four in 2015, and 12 in 2014. It’s been a weird month.