A rich new MLB deal for Fox and TBS
Fox gains more playoff and regular-season games
September 21, 2012
During an appearance at an investment conference in New York City yesterday, News Corp. chief operating officer Chase Carey attempted to quell rumors about a new sports network the company is launching to counter ESPN, saying the introduction of such a channel is based on “rumors and speculation.”
But Fox’s actions seem to suggest otherwise.
The network is close to signing a deal with Major League Baseball that would greatly expand the number of regular-season and playoff games it currently has rights to, games that could be used as a platform to launch the new channel.
An agreement between MLB and Fox is expected to be announced within days, if not hours.
As has been the trend in recent sports deals, the new agreement will significantly jack up the price that Fox is paying, roughly $257 million per year right now.
The new deal could be worth double that, according to reports this week.
Fox would get two division series under the new agreement. Right now TBS carries all four division series.
Those series would presumably be carried by Fox Sports One, rumored to be the name of the new channel, which would replace News Corp.’s Speed on the cable dial.
Fox would also get more rights to Saturday games, as well as the World Series, All-Star Game and one league championship series per year. It already carries the three latter events per its current contract.
An agreement with a major sports league would go a long way to gaining cable carriage of Fox Sports One, prompting high demand among viewers who want to see the league division series.
Yesterday at the Goldman Sachs 21st Annual Communacopia Conference, Carey poo-pooed any suggestion that a Fox Sports network would compete with ESPN, saying the dominant Disney-owned network is “in a different game.”
But Carey was careful to say that News Corp. does “like the sports business” and alluded to future development possibilities with Speed and Fuel.
MLB, meanwhile, is also negotiating with Turner to extend its current deal. Fox’s gains in playoff and regular-season coverage will apparently be TBS’s losses, with its Sunday afternoon games cut from 26 to 13 and its LDS dropping to two.
Still, TBS will retain rights to one LCS and a wild card game, and its Sunday games will no longer be blacked out in the teams’ local markets.
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