09/14/2005 1:17 PM ET
Major League Baseball, ESPN reach new eight-year television agreement
ESPN to air up to 80 games per year, highlighted by Monday, Wednesday and exclusive Sunday night telecasts
Major League Baseball and ESPN have reached a new eight-year agreement which grants ESPN the right to televise up to 80 Major League Baseball regular-season games per season across the ESPN networks through 2013. The joint announcement was made today by Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig and ESPN/ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer.
ESPN will telecast three Major League Baseball windows including Monday nights, Wednesday nights, and the exclusive "Sunday Night Baseball" series. Also, ESPN will continue to produce the popular "Baseball Tonight" series. This agreement provides for a full slate of MLB programming on ESPN, the preeminent cable network, and still allows Major League Baseball to create additional national telecast packages for distribution through other outlets, including the Baseball Channel. In addition, the agreement includes rights for ESPN to include Major League Baseball programming as part of its distribution of the ESPN networks via certain new technologies, ensuring that MLB games will continue to reach the broadest possible audience.
"On behalf of Major League Baseball, I am pleased that we will continue our excellent relationship with ESPN for another eight years," said Commissioner Selig. "The magnitude of ESPN's commitment - both in terms of economics and number of years - underscores the vitality of our game and its value as a television property. It is yet another manifestation of baseball's increasing popularity and illustrates what I have said many times, that this is the golden era of our sport.
"We are dedicated to bringing Major League Baseball to as many fans as possible through a strong lineup of media partners. Enhancing our partnership with ESPN is an important first step in that process. ESPN has been and will continue to be instrumental in the renaissance of the game as it settles into the 21st Century."
Bodenheimer said: "This caps a series of comprehensive, 'new world' agreements, clearly demonstrating that ESPN and Major League Baseball share the same vision - to serve fans through the highest quality content and cutting edge technology. Today, we have significantly enhanced the value of our summer cornerstone television programming with increased team appearances on Sunday nights, extensive blackout lift rights on Monday nights and more game and studio flexibility to showcase the great sport of baseball like no other media company."
Other details of the agreement include:
- The ESPN Monday night series will include the ability to lift blackouts in local MLB Club markets up to three times per club, per year.
- The rights to several of the Major League Baseball All-Star Week events, including the All-Star Home Run Derby, Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game, and the XM Satellite Radio All-Star Futures Game.
- An exclusive telecast of the Sunday night, MLB season-opening game.
- Full coverage of Major League Baseball Opening Day.
- Up to 10 spring training games in each year of the agreement.
- ESPN receives the right to produce a new live pre-game, batting practice program which will generally originate from the site of ESPN's Monday Night telecast.
- ESPN will air six one-hour specials produced exclusively by Major League Baseball Productions, the Emmy® award-winning television and video production division of Major League Baseball, in each year of the agreement.
The agreement is subject to ratification by the Major League Clubs.