TBS to Air Nearly Two Dozen Fewer Games in New MLB TV Deal

Posted by | September 20, 2012 at 10:52 PM

Turner Sports was able to hold onto Major League Baseball rights, but at the cost of losing nearly a third of its telecast windows.

Based on reports by The New York Times and The Associated Press, Turner Sports’ TBS will televise a maximum of 31 games per season under the network’s soon-to-be-announced television contract with Major League Baseball — down from a maximum of 53 games under the current deal.

In particular, TBS would air just thirteen regular season games (down from 26) and a maximum of eighteen playoff games (down from a max of 27).

Despite having the number of games cut in half, the regular season aspect of the reported deal is a definite win for Turner Sports. Regular season games are expected to co-exist with local telecasts in the home markets, eliminating the blackouts that have been disastrous for TBS ratings.

During the playoffs, however, TBS figures to be the biggest loser of the three MLB TV partners. TBS is expected to get one Wild Card game and half of the Division Series in the new contract. By comparison, the network will air both Wild Card games and all-but-two Division Series games this year.

ESPN has already won the rights to the other Wild Card game, and FOX Sports is expected to acquire the other two Division Series.

Beyond television, Turner Sports is expected to pick up “extensive new digital rights,” which The New York Times suggests will “help its newly acquired Bleacher Report site” (nytimes.com, 9/19).

(Includes information from The New York Times and The Associated Press)