Major League Baseball will lose a substantial amount of broadcast television exposure under the new television deal announced Tuesday.
The FOX broadcast network televise only twelve regular season Major League Baseball windows per season under Fox Sports’ new MLB television contract, less than half of the 26 games the network typically televises under the current deal. Prior to the current deal, FOX aired 18 telecasts per season.
Under the new agreement, which kicks in with the 2014 season, FOX will be able to air up to 45 games in the twelve telecast windows, or around four regionalized games per week.
The reduction of games on broadcast will be accompanied by a substantial amount of games on cable. Up to forty regular season telecast windows will air on a “nationally distributed FOX channel,” likely the long-rumored Fox Sports 1 cable channel — or potentially even FX if the new network fails to develop.
Overall, the FOX networks will combine for 52 regular season games per year, with doubleheaders each Saturday. According to Sports Business Daily, one game will air at 4 PM ET, and the other at 7 PM.
For regular season telecasts on FOX, subscribers to MLB Extra Innings and mlb.tv will now be able to watch the games they do not receive on their local affiliate. In other words, in weeks when FOX televises Yankees/Red Sox in most of the country, subscribers will be able to watch one of the network’s other telecasts.
In another intriguing aspect of the deal, Sports Business Daily reported Tuesday that FOX has the option to move some League Championship Series games to cable television.