NYT: CBS, In “Alliance” With TBS, Involved in MLB TV Talks

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CBS Sports, which has not picked up TV rights for a non-NFL pro sports league in nearly a quarter-century, is apparently involved in the ongoing Major League Baseball negotiations.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Major League Baseball is in discussions with Fox Sports Media Group, NBC Sports Group, and a “TBS-CBS alliance” on a new television contract.

FOX, NBC and TBS have always been described as the primary suitors for MLB rights — along with ESPN, which agreed to a new eight-year TV deal on Tuesday. This is perhaps the first time, however, that CBS has been mentioned as a definitive bidder.

In June, Sports Business Journal reported that CBS was not interested in baseball rights. A month later, The New York Times first broached the possibility that Turner Sports would “link up” with CBS for a joint bid.

CBS and Turner Sports are far from unlikely bedfellows. The entities’ parent companies, CBS Corporation and Time Warner, share joint-ownership of The CW broadcast network.

In the sports realm, CBS and Turner won rights to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in 2010, as their joint bid topped ESPN’s by some $40 million per year. Going back further, they shared television rights for the Winter Olympics during the 1990s.

According to the Times report, CBS “would most likely want only the All-Star Game and World Series,” an arrangement similar to the one NBC had with Major League Baseball in the late 1990s.

Riding a decade of primetime ratings success, CBS has not felt the need to add big time sporting events. Since gaining rights to Major League Baseball in 1988 — an ill-fated four-year deal — CBS lost rights to the NBA (1989), MLB (1993) and NFL (1994). Only the NFL has returned.

(Wednesday’s news from The New York Times)

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