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ESPN Scores New Streaming Rights in MLB Broadcast Extension

Dodgers baseball
(Image credit: Major League Baseball)

BRISTOL, Conn.—ESPN and Major League Baseball are continuing their broadcast relationship with a new deal, which will include the new right to simulcast games on its ESPN+ service.

ESPN, its parent company The Walt Disney Company and MLB have come to terms on a seven-year extension to its exclusive, marquee broadcast schedule. The new deal will begin in 2022 and go through 2028.

With the deal, ESPN will exclusively televise 30 regular season games each year, including 25 editions of “Sunday Night Baseball,” the national MLB game of the week and the MLB Little League Classic. ESPN will also have the exclusive rights to five additional games each season, including the national Opening Night telecast. The Home Run Derby will also continue to air exclusively on ESPN.

New to the deal is the right for ESPN to produce alternative presentations of the broadcasts across its platforms and simulcast all ESPN and ABC game telecasts on ESPN+. The deal also enables ESPN+ to host new MLB content, including studio and highlight-driven programming. The streaming service will also maintain the right to broadcast a MLB game nearly every day, subject to local blackout restrictions.

In addition to the regular season, the extension will make ESPN the exclusive home for the entire MLB Wild Card Series, if the event expands. If the current Wild Card format remains, then ESPN will continue to exclusively televise one of the two Wild Card Games, as well as receive eight additional exclusive regular season game telecasts each year.

Additional components of the deal include increased highlight rights for all of ESPN’s news and information platforms, as well as digital MLB shows. ESPN will also have the right to nationally televise up to 10 Spring Training games each year.

ESPN has carried MLB games since 1990.

“ESPN’s long-standing relationship with Major League Baseball has been a driver of innovation for three decades,” said James Pitaro, chairman, ESPN and Sports Content. “This agreement solidifies Baseball’s ubiquitous presence across ESPN platforms, including ESPN+. The impactful collection of exclusive content, including Sunday Night Baseball which has served as the signature MLB series for more than 30 years, will be amplified by the surrounding rights we have to make these live events even bigger. We thank Commissioner Manfred and the MLB ownership group for their partnership and commitment as we collectively uncover new ways to serve fans.” 

MLB is the latest of the major professional sports league to net a new broadcast rights package. The NFL announced its new massive deal in March, while the NHL found two new broadcast homes, including ESPN, in April. All of the new deals include streaming in some capacity.