MLB TV deals prove baseball is thriving

During a conference call, commissioner Bud Selig said that with the three deals, MLB will be paid a combined $12.4 billion over eight years beginning in 2014.
During a conference call, commissioner Bud Selig said that with the three deals, MLB will be paid a combined $12.4 billion over eight years beginning in 2014.

The long-anticipated broadcast rights deals formally announced among Fox, Turner Sports, and Major League Baseball Tuesday involved big commitments and bigger money, with baseball receiving in the ballpark of $800 million annually from the two networks on eight-year extensions though the 2021 season.

The renewals with Fox and Turner, which were first reported by USA Today last month, follow a similar rights extension MLB signed with ESPN in August.

During a conference call, commissioner Bud Selig said that with the three deals, MLB will be paid a combined $12.4 billion over eight years beginning in 2014.


That essentially doubles the payout under the previous agreement.

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Any more questions about whether baseball is thriving?

“The value of these deals is a manifestation of how far this sport has come,’’ Selig said. “Both networks are passionate about baseball and are committed to covering, promoting, and growing the sport, and I want to thank them for their continued support.”

There was also a smaller but significant nugget of news for fans who don’t live in the coverage area of their favorite team. Under the terms of the Fox extension, out-of-market blackouts for subscribers to MLB.TV and “Extra Innings” will be eliminated beginning in 2014. So a Red Sox fan in, say, Cleveland, will be able to tune in on a smartphone or laptop or other device and watch the game of their choosing as long as it isn’t airing in that particular market during Fox’s exclusive Saturday window.

Under terms of the extension, Fox will double its regular-season game rights from 26 to 52. The network retains its rights to the World Series and All-Star Game, and gains rights to two of the four Division Series. Currently, all four air on TBS. The American and National League Championship Series will alternate between Fox and TBS on an annual basis. TBS also has a wild card game, as does ESPN.


“This is a remarkable day for baseball,” Selig said.

The MLB Network is also in on the action. It will carry two games from one Division Series under the terms of the extension. The network actually broadcasts its first-ever postseason game Sunday when Matt Vasgergian and Jim Kaat will call a yet-to-be-determined division series opener.

Sports Hub is ahead

The latest round in the apparently never-ending battle for sports-radio supremacy in the Boston market belongs to 98.5 The Sports Hub, which finished second among men 25-54 in the quarterly Arbitron ratings for the summer.

But WEEI wasn’t far behind, finishing tied for third despite a dismal season for the Red Sox, for whom it is the flagship station.

The Sports Hub earned a 6.8 share in the summer quarterly, which covers the period from June 21-Sept. 12, trailing classic rock station WZLX (also owned by CBS Radio), which was tops with an 8.3.


WEEI, which finished second in the spring book, two spots ahead of The Sports Hub, earned a 6.4 share this time around.

The Sports Hub, the flagship for Patriots broadcasts, benefited from the anticipation and start of the football season, surging in September with a 7.8 share to WEEI’s 5.8 in the month.

The Sports Hub’s morning drive program “Toucher and Rich’’ was first in the 6-10 a.m. window with an 8.6 share. The “Dennis and Callahan” program on WEEI (93.7) was tied for third at 7.2.

Despite the Red Sox’ struggles, WEEI was first in the evenings (8.9), while 98.5 The Sports Hub was fifth (5.6) in that 7 p.m.-midnight window. The “Planet Mikey’’ program airs on WEEI when the Red Sox aren’t playing, while Damon Amendolara is The Sports Hub’s evening host.

The Sports Hub’s “Felger and Massarotti” program in afternoon drive (2-6 p.m.) finished first (8.6), while WEEI’s “The Big Show with Glenn Ordway and Michael Holley” was third (6.3).

The Sports Hub’s midday program “Gresh and Zolak,” was second (6.8 share) while WEEI’s “Mut and Merloni” was third, also with a 6.8. Gresh and Zo ranks higher because of a better cume score.

ESPN, A-10 extend

There was another relevant, if smaller, sports TV deal announced Tuesday. ESPN made a multiyear agreement with the Atlantic 10 that extends their partnership to broadcast men’s and women’s basketball games, including the conference championships. The extension begins in 2013-14 and runs through 2021-22. Fourteen men’s and two women’s regular-season games will air on ESPN television platforms annually . . . Comcast SportsNet New England tips off its season of Celtics coverage Friday with the preseason opener in Istanbul against Fenerbahce Ulker at 2 p.m. Mike Gorman and Brian Scalabrine (who will sub in for Tommy Heinsohn as the analyst on specific road trips) are on site to the call the game. CSNNE also will broadcast Sunday’s noon matchup in Milan against AT EA7 Emporio Armani . . . The Patriots put up impressive numbers Sunday in beating the Bills, 52-28, and their television ratings were correspondingly large. The game drew a 32.8 household rating in the Boston market, making this the first season that the Patriots have had a household rating of 30 or better in every game they played in September. The Patriots also drew a 60 share, meaning that 60 percent of all televisions in the market during 1-4 .p.m. window were tuned in to the game.

Chad Finn can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeChadFinn.