Well, it looks like all of our optimism earlier this month was for naught. A report released yesterday from Sports Business Daily indicates that Fox and Turner will be retaining the MLB weekend and playoff rights through the 2021 season. Fox will be paying $4 billion over the eight year deal (or $500 million a season) and Turner will be paying $2.8 billion (or $350 million per season) over their eight year pact.
With ESPN paying $700 million per season, that's $1.55 billion that MLB is bringing in just with TV rights, or around $50 million per team. That's a pretty good chunk of change for the lower payroll clubs, with total salaries ranging from $55 to $70 million for some of the lower budget teams. Once the local TV deals comes into play, some teams could completely fund their lineups with nothing but TV money… everything else is just gravy.
Now, from the fan's standpoint of things, what is each network getting? The status quo will essentially remain, but there are some changes. Fox will continue to brodcast the World Series, and Fox and TBS will both share both the League Championship Series and League Divisional Series. Previously, the two networks shared just the LCS, with TBS airing all of the LDS games. As for weekend packages, the status quo will again remain. TBS will air the Sunday afternoon game, and Fox will keep possession of the Saturday game… however, some broadcasts will be moved to Fox's reported all-sports channel Fox Sports One (which apparently will be replacing Speed).
Many fans are probably going to be dissatisfied with this, but this might not be all that bad. With Fox planning to throw some of their exclusive Saturday games on a cable channel (much like TBS), I'm getting a feeling that we might see weekend blackouts lifted (which would be an absolute dream come true for fans nationally). I highly doubt MLB would allow a blackout of a quarter of the games on a weekend day because of games airing on… cable. As for the games that will air on the network TV I can give you four words to sum up the games on there: Baseball Night in America. The promotion has been a smash over the last two years for Fox, and I predicted back in July that it would continue on for the 2013 season.
Two more storylines coming out of these deals: the lack of involvement of CBS and NBC. It was reported a couple of weeks ago that CBS might partner with Turner in an attempt to get something done, but there's no mention of them in the SBD report. As for NBC, we all expected them to get involved… and yet, nothing. Either their brass wants nothing to do with paying billions for a major sport to headline NBC Sports Network, or they have something else up their sleeve. Given the NHL lockout has just begun, NBC is going to need *something* to prop up their sports division this fall, because non-BCS conference football isn't going to do the job.
At the end of the day, it's another decade of Joe Buck & Tim McCarver calling the World Series. They aren't going anywhere, which at the very least should mean AA's doors will remain open too. At least we have that to be thankful for.