Major League Baseball and ESPN, which first began televising games in 1990, on Tuesday announced a new eight-year broadcasting agreement that greatly increases the network's studio and game content across all of its platforms.
ESPN also will return to the fold in October, televising postseason baseball beginning in 2014 with one of two wild-card games per season. The network will alternate airing the American League and National League games each year. It also will have the rights to all potential regular-season tiebreaker games starting in 2014.
The level of ESPN's commitment to baseball -- both financially and through its expanded content -- is a testament to the strength of our game and its unprecedented popularity among our fans.” -- Commissioner Bud Selig
"On behalf of Major League Baseball, I am thrilled that we will continue our long-standing relationship with ESPN far into the future," commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "The level of ESPN's commitment to baseball -- both financially and through its expanded content -- is a testament to the strength of our game and its unprecedented popularity among our fans.
"Through its various networks and other media platforms, ESPN offers baseball fans more avenues to experience the game than ever before, and we're thankful for their continued support."
The agreement sets a new standard for MLB broadcasting.
ESPN's annual rights fee will increase by 100 percent over its current deals, marking a new all-time record for an MLB broadcasting deal. In addition to the increase in studio and game content, ESPN will have the right to broadcast up to 90 regular-season games per year across its networks beginning in 2014.
ESPN will continue to telecast each of its baseball windows -- Monday nights, Wednesday nights, and the nationally exclusive "Sunday Night Baseball" franchise.
Also starting in 2014, the agreement covers TV and radio rights to MLB programming both in the United States and internationally and will include expanded hours of "Baseball Tonight" and other ancillary programming across ESPN platforms.
Additionally, ESPN's baseball telecasts and other baseball programming will be available via ESPN3.com and the Watch ESPN App. ESPN has made a commitment to showcase each of baseball's 30 teams at least once per season in a live game telecast.
"The enormous scope of what we acquired will provide fans with more live baseball and more ways to access baseball content than ever before," ESPN president John Skipper said in the joint statement with Selig.
Additional details of the agreement include:
• ESPN will continue to have exclusive television rights to certain MLB All-Star week events including the Home Run Derby and All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game.
• A nationally exclusive opening night national telecast, as well as full coverage of Opening Day and games on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day.
• Up to 10 spring training games each season.
• In each year of the agreement, ESPN will air six one-hour specials created by Major League Baseball Productions, the Emmy Award-winning television and video production division of Major League Baseball.