Major League Baseball has asked a federal court overseeing the bankruptcy case involving Sinclair Inc.’s Diamond Sports Group to terminate the broadcaster’s rights to games played by the Cleveland Guardians and Minnesota Twins if it does not make an immediate payment connected to licensing rights.
“I think you should assume that if Diamond doesn’t broadcast, we’ll be in a position to step in,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after an owners’ meeting. “Our goal would be to make games available not only within the traditional cable bundle but on the digital side, as well.”
As Bally Sports struggles with financial difficulties, Major League Baseball is exploring all of its media options — including taking back local TV rights to 14 teams. At present, MLB would prefer to keep the status quo with Bally, which operates 19 regional sports networks across the U.S. But as Bally parent Diamond Sports — a unit of Sinclair Broadcast Group — spirals toward bankruptcy, time is running out, and MLB executives are preparing contingency plans.
Concerned about a possible bankruptcy for Diamond Sports Group, the subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcast Group that operates networks under the name Bally Sports and owns local broadcasting rights to 14 of the 30 Major League Baseball teams, the league has formed a new economic study committee that will gather next week at the owners’ meetings in Palm Beach, Fla.
Billy Chambers will start with Major League Baseball on Feb. 1 in the newly created position of executive vice president for local media, the commissioner’s office said Thursday.
What Happens Next For Tegna?
The league has renewed a deal with YouTube to carry 15 exclusive games on the platform this season. The renewal means YouTube will stream MLB games for a fourth consecutive season; the first contest of 2022 will be a Washington Nationals-Colorado Rockies matchup on May 5.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak is threatening to block the Oakland Athletics from moving to Las Vegas, pushing back against the MLB team’s demands for hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies for a new stadium. Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred recently discussed the A’s move with Sisolak, signaling that the team has the backing of fellow MLB owners who would vote to approve the relocation, sources with knowledge of the talks said.
Comcast NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service confirmed that it will stream a package of 18 Sunday morning Major League Baseball games starting in May. The games will be surrounded by a pre- and post-game shows, all produced by NBC Sports, which started broadcasting baseball in 1939.
Training camps in Florida and Arizona will open Friday, and the mandatory reporting date is Sunday. Exhibition games will begin March 17 or 18. Fans can start making plans to be at Fenway Park, Dodger Stadium and Camden Yards next month. Opening day is being planned a little more than a week behind the original date on March 31. The deal brings several major changes to the sport — a universal designated hitter, an expanded postseason and measures to disincentivize so-called “tanking.” Most of the labor fight centered on the game’s core economics.
The streamer has struck a rights deal with Major League Baseball to carry a weekly doubleheader of games on Fridays, starting with the 2022 season — whenever that may begin.
The Chicago Cubs are in talks with Sinclair Broadcast Group to launch a streaming service for customers without a cable or satellite-TV subscription — despite pushback from Major League Baseball on the idea. In a deal that insiders say could have league-wide implications, the Cubs and Sinclair are angling to launch the new service following a tough round of negotiations with Comcast more than a year ago that resulted in capping monthly fees for the Marquee Sports Network, the broadcaster of local Cubs games, according to sources close to the situation.
Major League Baseball’s 2021 postseason has scored well to date, in terms of overall average viewers per game — up 1% this year versus 2019. The Nielsen-measured postseason has averaged 3.67 million per game for 29 total games versus 2019 — wild card, divisional and league championship series games post-season contests. This year is also up 62% versus a year ago, when it averaged 2.3 million viewers.
Major League Baseball and Barstool Sports have had significant negotiations about having national midweek games on the site’s platforms. The discussions are what Barstool founder Dave Portnoy was referring to last week when he mentioned his company has had talks with “major leagues.”
A pro-business group filed a federal lawsuit on Monday against Major League Baseball, claiming it had no right to move the All-Star Game from Atlanta in protest of Georgia’s restrictive voting law. An Addison, Texas-based organization called Job Creators Network said “thousands of hard-working ordinary men and women in the Atlanta area” had been banking on proceeds from this year’s All-Star Game before: “Defendants took this all away in the blink of an eye.”
Major League Baseball is considering a rule change that cord cutters can cheer. After years of relying on traditional distribution of local games via cable and satellite (plus, to a limited extent, over-the-top streaming), MLB is now urging its regional sports networks to explore direct-to-customer possibilities for local fans.
MLB decided to move the game from Truist Park in Atlanta in response to Georgia voting changes signed into law by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp on March 25. Critics, including the CEOs of Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola, have condemned the changes as being too restrictive.
Major League Baseball is set to return. The MLB Players Association informed the league on Tuesday that players will comply with commissioner Rob Manfred’s imposed outline for a 2020 season. Players are set report for another version of “spring” training on July 1, and the league’s imposed 60-game season will start either July 23 or 24, the league announced.
There might be no Major League Baseball games this year after a breakdown in talks between teams and the players’ union on how to split up money in a season delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Major League Baseball owners approved a proposal that commissioner Rob Manfred plans to present to players Tuesday on a return-to-play scenario that aims to have baseball back in home stadiums by early July, sources familiar with the situation told ESPN. The meeting between MLB and the MLB Players Association on Tuesday will set the stage for what both parties expect to be a contentious negotiation.
Major League Baseball and YouTube on Wednesday released details of the first three matchups under their agreement to stream a package of 13 live games every week on the video-sharing website.
Major League Baseball won’t get a shot at controlling the nation’s regional sports TV networks, after all. MLB has resigned itself to becoming a minority investor — as Disney wraps up its auction of the 21 RSNs — giving up on a dream to become the operator of a nationwide chain of sports-focused TV channels.
MGM Resorts International became Major League Baseball’s official gambling partner in the U.S. and Japan, a deal made as the sport tries to ensure more prevalent legal sports betting does not lead to any scandals of the type sparked by illegal wagers in its past.
Major League Baseball and 21st Century Fox signed a new rights agreement that will keep the national pastime’s biggest games on Fox Sports and Fox Broadcasting for the next several years. Under the terms of the pact, Fox Sports and Fox Deportes maintain exclusive television broadcast rights to the World Series, one League Championship Series, two Division Series and the All-Star Game.
Post-Season Baseball A Hit With Advertisers
Fox and TBS aren’t talking dollars, but they say they have sold about 90% of their inventory, more than had at this point last year, with modest rate increases. While MLB telecasts have the oldest median age of the four major sports, the World Series is still a major desired destination for some of the biggest-spending advertisers. While network officials would not discuss ad rates for the playoffs and World Series, media buyers say Fox is getting about $500,000 per 30-second spot.
Roughly one week into the 2018 Major League Baseball season, Twitter has announced a renewed deal with the league to livestream a game per week on its social media platform.
The games will be available to Facebook users in the U.S. on Facebook Watch, the company’s video feature announced last August, via the MLB Live show page. Facebook said Friday that recorded broadcasts will also be available globally, excluding select international markets.
Major League Baseball has unveiled rule changes designed to speed up the pace of games, including limiting visits to the pitcher’s mound and shaving the time between innings. The moves come after the average length of a nine-inning game last season grew more than four minutes year-over year to 3 hours, 5 minutes and 11 seconds.
Facebook has struck a deal with Major League Baseball to show 20 of the league’s games live this season in an agreement that expands the social media network further into the world of live programming. Facebook said Thursday that it would stream one game a week beginning on Friday, and the broadcasts would be available to everyone on Facebook in the United States.
The league is in talks with the social network to stream a weekly game, a first for Facebook, which is pushing into livestreaming sports just like rival Twitter.
As a self-described baseball geek, writer-producer Dan Fogelman was eager to take on Pitch, Fox’s new drama about the first woman to become a major league player. But he had one big concern. “I said, ‘If we don’t get Major League Baseball to sign on as partners, I don’t think we can do the show,’ “
Major League Baseball has agreed to sell single-team streaming rights to fans across the country. The agreement came as part of a legal settlement on the day MLB was to stand trial for alleged antitrust violations.
Major League Baseball, which has previously taken a miserly approach to extending TV Everywhere rights to regional sports networks, is softening its stance just a bit on authenticated streaming.