|MLB's revenues continue to grow during the reign of Bud Selig. (Getty Images)|
John Ourand of Sports Business Daily reports and CBSSports.com Insider Jon Heyman confirms: ESPN and Major League Baseball have agreed to a new national-television contract that's worth a whopping $5.6 billion. Yes, that's a "b" preceding "illion."
The deal will span eight years and grants ESPN domestic and international television rights, as well as digital and radio rights. In addition to its holdover broadcasts, ESPN will also now carry one wild-card game.
USA Today's Gabe Lacques also points out one other contractual nuance, which will surely displease fans of, oh, 28 of MLB's 30 teams ...
However, there's a wrinkle in there that may rankle many fans nestled outside of ESPN's Northeast corridor: Picking up the rights to carry popular teams like the Yankees and Red Sox more frequently.
As Ourand notes, though, the deal breaks down to $700 million per annum, which, on an annual basis, is more the double the value of the previous deal. That's a lot more money coming in, and that doesn't even account for the new playoff television contracts, which are still being negotiated.
MLB equally shares national-television revenues, which, obviously, means teams are going to enjoy quite a windfall thanks to the new deal with ESPN. What are the long-term consequences of that? This Joe Sheehan tweet sums it up fairly well:
More TV/central fund money will, counterintuitively, continue to dry up the FA market, as every team locks up its homegrown stars.— Joe Sheehan (@joe_sheehan) August 28, 2012
While I don't agree with so much of what Bud Selig has done during his sprawling reign, there's no doubting the extent to which he has grown the game as a business.