Thursday, October 19, 2006

Jim Williams: Baseball’s 2007 TV deal puts LCS games on cable for first time

Jim Williams, The Examiner
Oct 19, 2006 5:00 AM (1 hr 24 mins ago)
Current rank: # 1 of 5,288 articles

WASHINGTON - TBS, who began the whole “superstation” 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 is the second major event to move in less than a year following the transfer of “Monday Night Football” from ABC to ESPN.

Thus completes Major League Baseball’s new broadcast and cable TV contract that runs from 2007 through 2013.

It will be the most ambitious in the history of baseball with their partners being FOX on the broadcast side and ESPN and TBS on the cable side.

Here is who gets what starting this spring:

» FOX: 26 regular-season Saturday “Game of the Week” broadcasts, the All-Star Game, one of the League Championship Series and the World Series.

» TBS: 26 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 that you will see them on TBS.)

The way that FOX and TBS will handle the coverage of the LCS is simple, the odd number years starting in 2007, the American League will be on FOX, and the National League will air on TBS, then will alternate each year through the remainder of the contract.

Meanwhile, ESPN will broadcast 26 “Sunday Night Baseball” game of the week telecasts, as well as, “Monday Night Baseball,” “Wednesday Night Baseball” and “Friday Night Baseball.”

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

The deal from a broadcast structure is almost exactly the same deal that the NBA has using both ESPN and Turner Broadcasting as their primary cable partners in hopes that they can deliver a more broad and diverse audience for MLB as they have done for the NBA.

Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer.

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