Disney’s ESPN struck a new deal with Major League Baseball that will see the sports-media giant air a narrower package of games, primarily for its “Sunday Night Baseball” franchise, Variety reports.
ESPN is walking away, largely, from airing weekday baseball outings and its total number of games is expected to fall to about 30 to 40 games, compared with around 90 in past seasons. ESPN will broadcast 25 Sunday games, a national MLB game of the week and the “MLB Little League Classic.” ESPN will also televise five additional games exclusively, including an Opening Night telecast. The network will also carry MLB’s Home Run Derby. ESPN also won rights to produce alternate game presentation and to stream ESPN and ABC telecasts on its ESPN Plus streaming outlet.
The new seven-year deal, which will commence in 2022, will last through 2028.
“This extension continues the evolution of our relationship with a focus on utilizing ESPN’s extensive assets to shine a spotlight on key match-ups throughout the year,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a prepared statement.” As the way in which fans consume baseball continues to change, this partnership provides expanded opportunities for fans to engage with our content and we are excited to present those new opportunities.”
ESPN executives feel the deal keeps the network’s relationship with MLB intact, while focusing on an ” impactful collection of exclusive content,” said Jimmy Pitaro, ESPN’s chairman, in a statement.