MLB expected to start shopping media rights


Money TreeCurrent deals to carry Major League Baseball play-by-play date back to 2006 and extend through 2013 – and negotiations for 2014 are about to begin.

According to Sporting News, MLB has been talking with current rights holders ESPN, Fox Sports and Turner, but the talks have not yielded any agreements, and in the very near future rights for carriage of the sport will go on the open market.

One likely bidder, according to SN, is NBC Universal, which would love to see baseball on its cable outlet NBC Sports Network.

The current rights packages are said to cost ESPN roughly $306M annually, while Fox pays about $257M and Turner a bit less than $150M.

SN notes that baseball is enjoying peaceful relations with players through at least 2016, and is also reaping the benefits of competitive balance that is keeping fan interest levels high for a large number of franchises.

With those two positives forming a strong foundation for the sport, and with interest among the media players still very high, MLB is said to be favoring an auction format for rights to squeeze as much cash out of them as possible. The strong addition of NBC among the potential buyers is a strong factor in MLB’s favor.