ESPN Retained MLB Broadcasting Rights Through 2021, And It Only Cost Them $5.6 Billion

  • Jordan Rabinowitz

For those of you who are into watching John Kruk eat baby back ribs on-air during the Home Run Derby — and less importantly, if you enjoy ESPN’s baseball programming — you are in luck. With their deal with MLB set to expire next year, ESPN signed an eight-year, $5.6 billion deal with the nation’s past-time today, retaining their MLB programming until 2021.

According to the Sports Business Daily:

The eight-year deal is worth $5.6B (an average of $700M per year), approximately doubling the nearly $306M ESPN currently pays MLB every year for domestic TV rights. The new deal adds in digital, international and radio, for which ESPN is paying MLB around $50M currently, sources said. Sources added the deal will be announced as soon as this afternoon. As part of the deal, which runs through ‘21, ESPN retains the rights to “Sunday Night Baseball,” its Monday and Wednesday night games and highlights for “Baseball Tonight.”

Moreover, the deal will also include one Wild Card playoff game (betcha can’t guess which one it is!) and will promise games featuring the league’s more popular teams. SUCK IT, KANSAS CITY!

So why is this significant? Well, with Fox and TBS also set to have their contracts with the MLB expire in 2013, and with NBC also reportedly pining for broadcasting rights, the market price on carrying national baseball games has just been driven a mile high (which reminds me, SUCK IT, COLORADO!).

Not like any of the aforementioned don’t have pocket change of their own to spend, but still, the bidding war should be intense. Don’t chalk up victory to the remaining incumbents just yet. Remember, The Peacock is undergoing serious re-branding and wants their NBC Sports network to have something to show in an Olympic off-year besides fishing and cycling.

Oh, and it’s not like SportsCenter would’ve stopped showing baseball highlights even if they didn’t sign a new contract. So you would’ve been stuck with Chris Berman anyway. Stop complaining. I know you were.

[h/t Hardball Talk, photo via]