MLB And Turner Sign USD$3 Billion Broadcast Extension
ajor League Baseball (MLB) has extended their broadcast rights contract with WarnerMedia-owned network Turner Sports, for a further seven years and USD$3.2 billion.
The extension will take effect in 2022 and represents a 40 percent increase on the network’s existing deal.
WarnerMedia, sports and news chairman, Jeff Zucker, said the commitment to baseball from Turner is as strong as it has ever been.
“Our strategy is to present premium live sports, and obviously extending our deal was an important pillar,” Zucker said.
The broadcaster will double the number of live MLB games it airs each season following the addition of Sunday regular season fixtures to its existing Tuesday night package.
The deal also includes exclusive rights to one wildcard game, the most post-season games on any network and a season-long Game of the Week on Tuesday nights instead of Sunday afternoons.
MLB, commissioner, Rob Manfred, said moving to Tuesdays gives Turner more opportunities to expand its baseball reach.
“We think summer Sunday afternoons aren’t a great place to have them,” Manfred said.
“Fans have a lot of other things to do and there are two national windows the same day,” he said.
The renewal with Turner Sports cements a 50 plus-year partnership and follows MLB’s contract extension with Fox in 2018 valued at USD$5.1 billion.
Disney owned-ESPN remains the only network yet to renew its contract with MLB.
Speaking to CNBC, Octagon, senior vice president, Dan Cohen, said he expects ESPN to pay roughly USD$1.2 billion per year to retain its MLB rights.
In those circumstances, the MLB’s national T.V. rights revenue would increase to approximately USD$2 billion per year, up from USD$1.5 billion.
Cohen also said the league’s value could increase if the MLB and its players’ union agree on a new playoff format that would increase games.
However, following another rejected proposal, Manfred said there might not be a major league season if the MLB and the players’ union cannot come to a financial agreement.
“It’s just a disaster for our game, absolutely no question about it,” Manfred said during an appearance on ESPN.
“It shouldn’t be happening, and it’s important that we find a way to get past it and get the game back on the field for the benefit of our fans,” he said.
The MLB suspended operations on March 12 due to Covid-19.