SBJ: FOX Battling With CBS/Turner For One Huge MLB Rights Package

Posted by | September 3, 2012 at 12:59 PM

With NBC perhaps on the outside looking in, FOX and CBS/Turner Sports could battle it out for one consolidated Major League Baseball TV package.

Sports Business Journal reported Monday that both Fox Sports and Turner Sports have separately proposed a Major League Baseball television package that would combine the entities’ existing rights.

The package would include the MLB All-Star Game, the “Game of the Week,” and all three rounds of the postseason.

The deal proposed by Fox Sports would have kept the World Series and “most” of the League Championship Series on the FOX broadcast network, while giving the Division Series and “most” regular season games to the long-rumored 24-hour Fox Sports cable channel.

According to the report, “Fox’s initial offer last week was not high enough,” and network executives left negotiations without a deal.

Meanwhile, Turner Sports and CBS are in discussions for a package that would give CBS the World Series, the MLB All-Star Game, and portions of the LCS, with all other programming on Turner.

While the CBS/Turner deal would seem to fulfill Major League Baseball’s desire to keep the World Series on broadcast, The Los Angeles Times reported Thursday that MLB “would want CBS to carry more than just the All-Star and World Series.” It was not clear whether League Championship Series games would be enough, or if MLB wanted CBS to carry low-rated regular season games.

Major League Baseball reserves the right to put the separate FOX and Turner Sports packages up for bid, but seems to favor a combined package.

MLB, according to Monday’s Sports Business Journal report, “had told networks” that it was considering a consolidated TV package. On Thursday, The Los Angeles Times reported that MLB was “trying to consolidate its postseason games with one rights holder.” Even as far back as early July, The New York Times indicated that MLB could go with fewer broadcast partners in a new television contract.

NBC Sports, whose interest in an MLB rights package has been discussed since Comcast officially acquired NBC Universal in 2011, now considers itself an “underdog” in negotiations, according to the Sports Business Journal report.

One major obstacle for NBC, according to the Los Angeles Times, is the potential conflict between the Major League Baseball postseason and the network’s Sunday Night Football NFL package.

(Monday’s news from Sports Business Journal, with additional information from the Los Angeles Times)

  • Schmolik

    CBS could if they want put any sports programming on the CW if they wanted to keep things on broadcast TV and not pre-empt popular CBS prime time shows. Of course CBS would keep the NFL and the World Series and the most popular events. But the secondary ones (I’m thinking NCAA March Madness, US Open tennis, second level bowl games like the Orange and Sugar Bowl) could be on the CW.

    Back in the 90′s, FOX was a 4th network until they picked up the NFL contract. If CBS tries to build up CW Sports, maybe CW will take its place among the “Big Five”.