5:17PM: The new broadcast contract covers the 2022-2028 seasons, with Turner Sports paying roughly $470MM per season, as per John Ourand and Eric Prisbell of Sports Business Daily. In addition to the one LCS, Turner will also have the rights to two Division Series and one wild card game per year. This is notable given that expanded playoffs have been a prominent part of negotiations between players and owners for the 2020 and possibly the 2021 season as well. “The expectation is that this deal does not include rights to any additional playoff games, which would have to be negotiated separately,” Ourand and Prisbell write.
4:23PM: MLB has reached an agreement on a billion-dollar deal with Turner Sports that will allow the network to continue broadcasting a postseason package that includes one League Championship Series, reports Andrew Marchand of the New York Post. Though the length and precise terms of the deal remain unknown, it’s expected to be a considerable increase over the $350MM Turner had been paying annually under their current agreement.
The two sides have agreed to a deal in principle, but it is not finalized and has not yet been voted on for approval by the owners.
The network’s current deal expires following the 2021 season, so it will remain in place for this season with the new deal’s term beginning a few years from now.
While the deal itself is no doubt notable for the sport, its announcement comes at an awkward time for the league, given the state of negotiations between the owners and the players. And although the consummation of a new contract won’t have any real ramifications on this season in particular (it won’t kick in until 2022), the sheer value of the TV revenue on tap may cast doubt on MLB’s stance that it would be unable to shoulder revenue losses with no fans in the stands this year—especially in light of Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt’s claims that baseball “isn’t very profitable.”
In negotiations between the players’ association and MLB, owners have been insistent on offering players less than their full prorated salaries, a concession that the players have thus far been unwilling to accept. Needless to say, this development doesn’t strengthen the league’s posture. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that the parties can come to an agreement that puts 2020 baseball back on the menu.