MLB is looking to grow its popularity in India with a new media rights deal. The league has struck a deal with Star Sports India to broadcast every game of the 2020 and 2021 World Series live across the country; it also includes rights to regular season games in 2021.
Under the deal, which makes Star Sports the exclusive pay TV home of the World Series in India, the network will also air weekly original baseball content “created specifically for Indian audiences,” including three shows: “MLB Weekly,” “MLB Extra,” and “MLB’s Best.”
According to an announcement, “MLB Weekly” is intended to “educate, inform and entertain new fans of the sport in India” and is presented by influential Indian photographer Rohan Shrestha. ”MLB Extra” will feature extended highlights from three select games from each previous week; Shrestha will introduce each game, pointing out which players to watch and how they fit into the league’s broader landscape.
“MLB’s Best” — touted as “a program for more avid MLB fans” — will offer a countdown of the week’s best plays.
“As we continue to develop the sport and work to grow MLB fandom in India, there is no better partner than Star Sports to showcase the athleticism, intensity and drama that will be on display at the World Series,” MLB Senior Vice President, Global Media Dominick Balsamo said.
MLB has been working to grow baseball in India for years. The league opened its first Indian office in 2019 and has introduced the grassroots program “MLB First Pitch” in about 300 primary schools across New Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai. Leading Indian sports management, development and marketing agency India On Track is also partnering with MLB to “expand and market” the MLB First Pitch Program.
“Million Dollar Arm,” the reality TV contest organized by agent J.B. Bernstein where participants compete to earn a tryout with an MLB team, will also return in 2021.
With the Star Sports agreement, the 2020 World Series will be broadcast across 220 countries and territories by 75 media partners in 15 languages, the league said.