Friday, October 20, 2006

Baseball diversifies its TV coverage in new six-year deal

Jim Williams, The Examiner
Oct 20, 2006 5:00 AM (1 hr 51 mins ago)
Current rank: # 3 of 4,531 articles

BALTIMORE - TBS, which began the whole “Super Station”/baseball-on-cable trend, took things to a whole different level this week by completing a six-year deal with Major League Baseball.

The deal gives TBS the cable rights to the League Championships Series, one of sports’ crown jewels, and continued an interesting trend of moving high-profile sporting events to cable from broadcast TV. It’s the second major event in less than a year to make such a move, following the transfer of Monday Night Football from ABC to ESPN.

MLB’s new broadcast and cable TV contract is now complete, running from 2007 through 2013. It will be the most ambitious contract in the history of baseball, with its partners being FOX on the broadcast side and ESPN and TBS on the cable side.

Here’s who gets what starting next spring:

FOX: Twenty-six regular-season Saturday game of the week broadcasts, the All-Star Game, one of the League Championship Series and the World Series.

TBS: Twenty-six regular-season Sunday afternoon game of the week broadcasts, the All-Star selection show, regular-season tie-breaker games, both the National and American League divisional series and one of the league championship series. (Braves fans, this will be the final season you’ll see them on TBS.)

The way FOX and TBS will handle the coverage of the LCS is simple: In odd-numbered years starting in 2007, the American League will be on FOX and the National League will air on TBS, and they’ll alternate each year through the remainder of the contract.

Meanwhile, ESPN will broadcast 26 Sunday night game of the week telecasts, as well as games on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights.

The total package is estimated at around $5 billion (or about $28 million per year, per team, for the next six years).

From a broadcast structure, the deal is almost exactly the same as that of the NBA, which uses both ESPN and TBS as its primary cable partners in hopes of delivering their product to a more diverse audience.

Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. You can reach him at

No comments: