Major League Baseball announced today that it has reached a new seven-year, multiplatform agreement with FOX Sports spanning the 2022-28 seasons. Eric Fisher of Sports Business Journal reports (via Twitter) that the contract’s rough value is a staggering $5.1 billion — a near-50 percent increase over the total value of the existing agreement between MLB and FOX. Bloomberg’s Scott Soshnick tweets a similar total figure and notes that on an annual basis, the agreement represents a 36 percent increase over the prior contract.
Soshnick’s colleague, Eben Novy-Williams also tweets that Major League Baseball owners approved a three-year, $300MM streaming rights deal with DAZN, wherein DAZN will offer a weeknight show whose coverage bounces from game to game throughout the league — “similar to NFL RedZone.”
Under the terms of the television agreement, FOX Sports and FOX Deportes will retain exclusive rights to airing the World Series, one of the two annual League Championship Series and two of the four annual Division Series and the All-Star Game. FOX will also continue to air a pair of games each Saturday, with today’s release indicating that the number of regular season and postseason games aired on FOX will begin to increase in 2022. FOX also secures expanded streaming, social media and highlight rights, per the announcement.
“FOX Sports has been our national television partner for over 20 years and I could not be more pleased to announce the extension of our relationship through the 2028 season,” said recently extended commissioner Rob Manfred in a statement announcing the new agreement. “We value FOX Sports’ commitment to baseball and are excited to continue our partnership with this new agreement. Their innovative presentation of Major League Baseball through game telecasts and special programming across all their platforms has helped strengthen and elevate our sports’ popularity.”
It’s an enormous windfall for the league and one that further places a spotlight on the ever-increasing revenue available to Major League teams in today’s game — even as league-wide attendance dips and World Series ratings reportedly fell off in significant fashion. While many fans focus on the increasing rate of pay for Major League players and gripe as $30MM annual salaries become more prevalent, team revenue streams are almost assuredly accelerating at a more pronounced rate. Of course, the financial specifics of each team (or of any team) remain unknown beyond a general sense, as such information is not made publicly available.
The reported increase in revenue comes against the backdrop of a free-agent freezeout from the 2017-18 offseason in which tensions between the league and the MLBPA reached heights not seen in the past two decades — since the most recent labor stoppage. As revenue increases on the team side of the equation, players and their representatives will no doubt seek to continually push the bounds of what are considered to be contractual norms and call for the players to receive their piece of the metaphorical pie — likely in vocal fashion at times, as was the case last winter.