MLB nearing long-term TV rights with two broadcasters - WSJ

Sept 19 Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:02pm EDT

Sept 19 (Reuters) - Major League Baseball is nearing long-term television deals with two broadcasters that will help double its TV revenue, just weeks after the league signed a $5.6 billion deal with Walt Disney unit ESPN, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people with knowledge of the discussions.

Fox, a unit of News Corp, which also owns the Wall Street Journal, and cable network owner Turner, a unit of Time Warner Inc, will retain rights to both regular season and post-season games at a combined cost of nearly $7 billion through 2021, the paper said.

MLB's broadcast deals will keep the World Series on Fox, with the two companies sharing responsibility for televising the earlier rounds of the playoffs along with ESPN and possibly the MLB Network, the WSJ said. ()

Sporting events are among the shrinking number of broadcasts that viewers watch live without skipping commercials, and therefore reap some of the highest rates from advertisers. That fact has drawn more bidders to sports programming, driving prices higher and proving a boon to sports teams.

None of the parties could be immediately reached for comment by Reuters outside regular U.S. business hours.

News of the broadcast deals was earlier reported in the trade publication Sports Business Daily, the Journal said.