ESPN Reportedly Discussing Scaling Back MLB TV Rights

    • A 7-year, $3.85 billion deal is reportedly being discussed.
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Despite growth in its last two media rights deals with Fox Sports and Turner, it appears MLB might be in danger of losing ground with ESPN.

  • How it started: An 8-year, $5.6 billion deal signed in 2012
  • How it’s going: A 7-year, $3.85 billion deal is being discussed

The approximately $150 million per year drop stems from ESPN looking to cut the number of exclusive games it broadcasts by more than half. Signs point to the network keeping Sunday Night Baseball and the Home Run Derby.

It’s not just national TV: The Miami Marlins and Milwaukee Brewers are without regional contracts less than three months out from the season.

Before this development with ESPN, MLB signed deals with Fox in 2018 and Turner in 2020 that renewed their contracts for higher amounts. 

  • Fox: A 7-year $5.1 billion deal increased annual payments from $525 million to $728.6 million
  • Turner: The 7-year $3.75 billion deal increased annual payments from $325 million to $535 billion

Fox and Turner both get wider playoff rights, and Fox carries the World Series and All-Star Game, which helps explain the costs. 

Another factor: ESPN has lost more than 17 million cable subscribers in the past decade — a multi-billion dollar loss. The network is also expected to vie for NHL and NFL rights.