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ESPN – KBO broadcasting deal in jeopardy after ESPN tried to acquire rights for free

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Yonhap News is reporting that ESPN’s attempt to acquire broadcasting rights to the KBO League, South Korea’s major baseball league, might be coming up short due to ESPN wanting the rights for free.

ESPN’s desire to show Korean baseball was understandable given the lack of ongoing American sports, but free broadcasting rights are quite an outlandish request. The KBO has practically all of the leverage in this scenario given that ESPN has the need for content, and the league has that content. It’s unclear where exactly ESPN got the idea that they could somehow show KBO games without having to pay for the right to do so.

The KBO is aiming to start play next month and is generally regarded as having a higher level of play than Taiwan’s CPBL, which right now is the only game in town.

Needless to say, this is a disappointing development. Korean baseball is a whole lot of fun and would have been a welcome addition to the airwaves. Hopefully the two sides can come to an equitable arrangement.

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Oakland Athletics reverse course, will continue to pay minor leaguers

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher has reversed course and will continue to pay minor leaguers. Fisher tells Slusser, “I concluded I made a mistake.” He said he is also setting up an assistance fund for furloughed employees.

The A’s decided in late May to stop paying paying minor leaguers as of June 1, which was the earliest date on which any club could do so after an MLB-wide agreement to pay minor leaguers through May 31 expired. In the event, the A’s were the only team to stop paying the $400/week stipends to players before the end of June. Some teams, notable the Royals and Twins, promised to keep the payments up through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended. The Washington Nationals decided to lop off $100 of the stipends last week but, after a day’s worth of blowback from the media and fans, reversed course themselves.