mlb on tbs

What’s ahead for Sports Media in 2014, Part I – MLB

As we head into the home strech for 2013, it's time to look at what's ahead next year for sports media as two major sports leagues enter into new television contracts. In addition, 2014 is a transition year as we mark the end of old contracts in golf, tennis, NASCAR and heading into a new era for the NBA.

In this installment, we look at Major League Baseball which just ended its latest TV contract. This era saw TBS take a major role in the postseason and cable airing all of the League Division Series and half of the League Championship Series. In the new MLB contracts, we will see new partners carrying the postseason and a complete overhaul in how we watch the regular season on national televsion. Let's take a look at what you'll see on television next year.

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The new TV contract starting in 2014 will continue with the previous partners, ESPN, Fox, MLB Network and TBS, but there are several changes that fans need to know before Opening Day. For example, Fox Sports 1 will have a presence in televising baseball in 2014 not only on Saturdays, but also in the postseason. TBS will have a reduced schedule in the regular season televising its least amount of games ever. ESPN will be back in the MLB Postseason for the first time since 2006.

Let's break down the particulars for each partner. All deals run from 2014 through 2021.

ESPN

  • 90 regular season games on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday nights.
  • Special Opening Night and Opening Day games
  • Games on Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day.
  • Rights to all regular season tiebreaker games. 
  • Rights to one Wild Card Playoff game marking a return to the postseason for ESPN dating back to 2006.

FOX/FOX SPORTS 1

  • Rights to 52 national windows on Saturdays, up from 26 previously.
  • Fox will air 12 games. Games not aired in the local market will be made available on MLB Extra Innings
  • Fox Sports 1 will air as many as 40 games including the ability to pick up games from its local Fox Sports Net affiliates including STO and YES. 
  • Rights to the MLB All-Star Game, one League Championship Series and the World Series (Fox).
  • Rights to two League Division Series alternating between the American and National Leagues every year (Fox Sports 1)
  • Rights to a nightly highlights show with live cut-ins similar to ESPN's Baseball Tonight and MLB Network's MLB Tonight. (Fox Sports 1)
  • Digital rights to stream all MLB on Fox/Fox Sports 1 regular season and postseason games.

MLB NETWORK

  • 150 regular season games, most of any national MLB TV partners
  • Picks up the MLB All-Star Selection Show from TBS
  • Rights to the MLB All-Star Futures Game from ESPN
  • Rights to 2 League Division Series games (sublicensed from Fox Sports 1).
  • Will continue to air the First-Year Player Draft

TBS

  • 13 Sunday regular season afternoon games in the final half of the season. No local blackouts.
  • One Wild Card Playoff game.
  • Two League Division Series which will alternate between the American and National League. 
  • One League Championship Series alternating between each league.
  • Digital rights allowing TBS to stream all regular and postseason games on computers, mobiles and tablets.

SUMMARY

ESPN is back airing holiday games and in the postseason. Fox increases its presence in the postseason through Fox Sports 1. TBS loses 13 regular season games and two League Division Series to Fox, but maintains one League Championship Series every year. MLB Network continues to be the Network of Record for MLB with 150 regular season games and two LDS games.

Overall, baseball fans will have plenty of national outlets to watch games in 2014 and beyond. 

Ken Fang

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013. He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television. Fang celebrates the three Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

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