With the exception of 1997 and 1999, the World Series has been on Fox since the 1996 Braves-Yankees edition (Game 2 pitching matchup: Greg Maddux vs. Jimmy Key!) Based off at least one report, that relationship is likely to continue into the future as well.
That’s according to Andrew Marchand in the New York Post, who reports that MLB is pleased with the relationship.
Sources said MLB is open to doing an extension with Fox because it is happy with the relationship, and it would be receiving a substantial enough increase without going on the marketplace.
The current deal that Fox has with MLB runs through 2021. At that time, the network will have been broadcasting the World Series for a quarter century. Fox has reportedly been paying $525 million per year.
There’s also a chance that this deal could include a transition to a new voice of the World Series. Joe Buck has called every World Series on Fox going back to 1996, and while a change won’t happen soon as Buck is on board through at least 2021, there’s a chance he might not continue in that role beyond his current deal. The move makes sense for MLB; continuity isn’t a bad thing, the Fox production is generally fine-to-good, although color analyst John Smoltz was occasionally a tough listen this October. And the money is definitely solid.
Moreover, with Fox they have a partner who will continue to need as much outside content as possible in the wake of the Disney deal. Marchand reiterated that in his own report:
Retaining the World Series and its baseball package would fit into Fox’s live-sports mantra after its $71.3 billion deal with Disney. The network has acquired “Thursday Night Football,” WWE and boxing to go along with college football, making it a destination for live prime-time sports events.
Fox no longer has their own means of production, so they have plenty of network hours to fill with outside content, whether that means scripted shows, reality, or live sports. If anything, Fox probably needs the World Series more now than ever, less than stellar ratings trends.
As for the rest of the league’s postseason package, Marchand reports that Turner and ESPN aren’t currently working on similar extensions:
MLB is not believed to have started any new formal negotiations with ESPN or Turner, its two other national partners.
That doesn’t mean it won’t happen, of course, and it makes sense for Fox to prioritize the World Series first and work down from there. But it’s definitely something to monitor going forward.