It looks like ESPN is prepared to pay big bucks for the rights to broadcast Major League Baseball games through 2021, according to news reports.
Reuters is reporting the sports network has agreed to pay $5.6 billion over eight years for the broadcast TV and digital rights. According to the Associated Press, the deal also gives ESPN more flexibility to show games involving popular teams.
MLB didn’t disclose the financial details but said in a statement that the deal would set a record for payments for baseball broadcasting rights.
ESPN currently pays about $306 million annually to MLB for domestic TV rights and about $50 million for digital, international and radio rights. The new deal would mean annual payments would jump to around $700 million annually, Reuters said.
Citing people familiar with the deal:
ESPN will retain rights to “Sunday Night Baseball,” Monday and Wednesday night games, and highlights for “Baseball Tonight,” the network said in a statement. ESPN also gains one post-season game annually during the Wild Card round of the playoffs. The game will alternate each year between the American and National leagues.
ESPN already has a lock on football, with a National Football League deal to broadcast “Monday Night Football” through 2021 at a price tag of $15.2 billion.