ESPN and Major League Baseball have reached an eight-year, multiplatform rights extension which will significantly enhance ESPN’s TV, digital, radio and International MLB rights. The agreement – effective 2014 through 2021 – was announced today by MLB Commissioner Allan H. Selig and ESPN President John Skipper.
The agreement is highlighted by the addition of an annual Wild Card game, the rights to produce a significant amount of additional MLB studio programming hours, 10 additional regular-season games, increased footage and highlights rights across platforms, increased ability to co-exist in local team markets and added content across digital platforms and WatchESPN. In addition, rights across ESPN Radio, ESPN International and ESPN Deportes will expand.
ESPN’s expanded MLB package will include the following additional rights:
- The addition of an annual Wild Card game presented by Budweiser, which will alternate between AL and NL each year;
- The rights to produce a significant amount of additional Baseball Tonight hours;
- The rights to all regular-season tiebreaker games – if necessary;
- In-progress highlights during SportsCenter on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNEWS;
- 10 additional regular-season games per season, including four Pennant Chase games in late September and up to six Holiday games across Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day;
- New and increased co-exist rights on Monday Night Baseball and Wednesday Night Baseball;
- The rights to produce a new, daily baseball studio show.
The new deal will also include several enhancements to existing rights:
- Increased rights for Sunday Night Baseball exclusive team appearances;
- More selection flexibility throughout ESPN’s 25-game Sunday Night Baseball slate;
- Increased highlight rights for ESPN websites and applications, additional digital rights for ESPN programs and increased interactive television rights;
- Increased ESPN Radio rights, including the additional right to co-exist during two Saturday windows per team, per year;
- All MLB-related television content, including games and studio shows, to be available on WatchESPN;
- Continued State Farm Home Run Derby coverage during MLB All-Star, including renewed 3D Derby rights;
- Renewal and expansion of International rights across territories, including Wild Card games and the rights to additional Baseball Tonight hours.
MLB Commissioner Allan H. Selig
“On behalf of Major League Baseball, I am thrilled that we will continue our long-standing relationship with ESPN far into the future. The level of ESPN’s commitment to baseball – both financially and through its expanded content – is a testament to the strength of our game and its unprecedented popularity among our fans. Through its various networks and other media platforms, ESPN offers baseball fans more avenues to experience the game than ever before, and we’re thankful for their continued support.”
ESPN President John Skipper:
“We’re thrilled to renew our long-standing agreement with Major League Baseball into the next decade. It’s a great property. The enormous scope of what we acquired will provide fans with more live baseball and more ways to access baseball content than ever before.”
The new agreement will guarantee a 30-plus year continuous relationship between ESPN and MLB – dating back to 1990 – which is one of the longest standing relationships between a network and a league.