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MLB reaches eight-year agreement with FOX, Turner

Major League Baseball's national television landscape is set through 2021.

MLB on Tuesday announced an eight-year national media rights agreements with FOX and TBS, and combined with the recently announced ESPN deal, the three contracts will deliver a combined $12.4 billion -- more than a 100-percent increase in annual rights fees to MLB over the current arrangements.

The new deals go into effect starting in 2014, and it means the World Series and All-Star Game will remain on FOX, while the League Championship Series and Division Series will be shared across FOX Sports Media Group (FSMG), TBS and MLB Network. Both deals also include digital "TV Everywhere" rights to stream televised games and other MLB-related programming online and through mobile devices.

"With two days left it's been a remarkable year, and I couldn't have scripted it into what it has come down to these last four days," Commissioner Bud Selig said, beginning a conference call to announce the deals. "We've seen a record-tying seven no-hitters, a potential Triple Crown season, an influx of incredible rookies ... just watching Mike Trout is exciting enough. Exciting races, leading to our first Wild Card games, and then the return of postseason baseball to our nation's capital for the first time in 79 years.

"It is nothing confined to the field, either. In a season that saw increased attendance, having our best year now since 2008, we have a record high revenue, competitive balance is stronger than I could ever have dreamed, we're in the midst of a lot of labor peace, so it's only fitting that we announce the successful completion of our national television deals today.

"This is a remarkable day for baseball ... The value of these deals is a manifestation of how far this sport has come, and it's a reflection of how great a year we have had on the field," Selig added. "FOX and Turner have played a key role in our growth of baseball."

Under the terms of the new agreements, FSMG will retain the rights to the World Series, the All-Star Game and one LCS while adding coverage of two Division Series starting in 2014. FSMG also will double its number of regular season national windows on Saturdays from 26 to 52, with 12 of those windows exclusive to FOX and as many as 40 non-exclusive windows on another nationally distributed FOX channel.

TBS will retain rights to air one LCS, two Division Series and one of the Wild Card games presented by Budweiser. TBS will also air afternoon games with new co-exist rights on the final 13 Sundays of the regular season. FSMG and Turner will alternate each year which league's DS and LCS games they telecast, with MLB Network airing two Division Series games each year from the same league as FOX.

"The new agreement not only keeps baseball jewel events like the All-Star Game and World Series on FOX, but we get to add two Division Series games and it basically doubles our postseason inventory, said FSMG co-president Eric Shanks. "It is with tremendous pleasure that we're able to extend and advance our relationship with Major League Baseball for another eight years. MLB, both nationally and regionally, has been part of our DNA here at FOX for a long time, and we're looking forward to working with MLB on many new initiatives that will grow and promote the sport in coming years."

"Major League Baseball on TBS has very much been a staple of our programming foundation for more than 35 years and the network has been the home to so many memorable baseball moments over that time," said David Levy, TBS president of sales, distribution and sports. "When you look at the overall scope of television and digital rights that we acquired, this new agreement adds considerable value to our portfolio of sports offerings."

Additional highlights of the new agreements include:

• Games included in the FOX Saturday national exclusive windows, which were previously blacked out to MLB Extra Innings and MLB.TV viewers, will be available beginning in 2014.

• In addition to two Division Series games, MLB Network, now in about 75 million homes, also has acquired the rights to telecast both the MLB All-Star Game Selection Show and the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.

"The addition of these games for us is really critical, shows the commitment of the Commissioner to the growth of the network," MLB Network CEO Tony Petitti said. "Obviously there is a relationship between strength of content and growth in distribution, and we feel this is a very important quality content to help in that task. ... it's an important showcase for us."

• Turner will have interactive TV rights, which includes the rights to create companion and ancillary products related to the TBS broadcast of regular and postseason games.

• FSMG will air a weekly 30-minute show created by MLB Productions.

Revenue will be split equally among all 30 teams per normal procedure, Selig said. "This is just a deal baseball made, and as a result it comes to us nationally and goes out equally to all 30 clubs," he said.

Shanks said it is too early to discuss what the contract extension means to familiar FOX talent, including the longtime duo of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, who will be calling the NLCS and World Series.

"We just finished up this particular deal, and haven't spoken to Joe or Tim about extensions," Shanks said, "so I think all of that will come in time. Both of those guys go through the current deal."

Many people are expecting a new FOX all-sports channel coming soon, and Randy Freer, FSNG co-president, said to stay tuned regarding how it will parse out its baseball programming.

"Throughout this deal, we have flexibility to some degree on distribution of the games," he said. "As many of you have read or heard, we continue to evaluate the potential of a national sports channel. We haven't announced anything yet ... but there will be a lot of things to come in the not too distant future."

ESPN and MLB last month announced a new deal covering 2014-21 that will increase ESPN's average yearly payment from about $360 million to approximately $700 million.