Financial terms weren't disclosed, but the deal gives ESPN rights to 80 regular season games per season across its outlets through 2013. The announcement was made by Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and ESPN/ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer.
ESPN will telecast three Major League Baseball windows: Monday nights, Wednesday nights and the exclusive Sunday Night Baseball series. The agreement also includes rights for ESPN to include MLB programming as part of its distribution of the ESPN networks "via certain new technologies," a clear reference to broadband or streaming video online.
The new deal could put a kink in Comcast's (CMCSA - Get Report) plans to transform its Outdoor Life Network into a major sports destination. OLN, which has the Tour de France and a new agreement with the National Hockey League, had hoped to grab some MLB rights as well. There are some remaining MLB windows that Comcast or others could still obtain after next year."This caps a series of comprehensive, 'new world' agreements, clearly demonstrating that ESPN and Major League Baseball share the same vision -- to serve fans through the highest-quality content and cutting-edge technology," said Bodenheimer in a statement. "Today, we have significantly enhanced the value of our summer cornerstone television programming with increased team appearances on Sunday nights, extensive blackout lift rights on Monday nights and more game and studio flexibility to showcase the great sport of baseball like no other media company." The agreement is still subject to ratification by the major league clubs. Shares in Disney were trading down 29 cents to $24.52 on Wednesday afternoon.