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Ratifying new TV deals on agenda for owners

Ratifying the historic new TV contracts leads the agenda for what is expected to be a quiet quarterly Owners Meetings, beginning Wednesday at the O'Hare Hyatt in Chicago.

Commissioner Bud Selig announced during the final days of the regular season that agreements had been reached with FOX and Turner Sports on eight-year deals. Combined with the pact with ESPN that was announced in August, which also runs through 2021, Major League Baseball will receive a combined $12.4 billion in media revenue over the course of the contracts.

That represents more than a 100 percent increase over current rights fees and is expected to provide each team with upwards of $25 million in additional annual revenue.

"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 said at the time. "FOX and Turner have played a key role in our growth of baseball."

As usual, the owners will also discuss baseball economics and hear committee reports. Longstanding issues such as the Athletics' desire to build a new stadium in San Jose, the disagreement between the Nationals and the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network over its share of rights fees with the Orioles, and instant replay could be discussed informally, though they're not on the agenda.

It's the new national deals that should be the focal point, however. And while money gets the headlines and much stays the same -- FOX will continue to broadcast the All-Star Game and World Series -- there are several wrinkles that could alter the way baseball is viewed.

For example, both the FOX and TBS deals include digital "TV Everywhere" rights to stream televised games and other MLB-related programming online and through mobile devices.

There has been speculation that FOX, which will double its regular-season game rights from 26 to 52 beginning in 2014, will use that to help launch a national all-sports network. Under the new agreement, 12 of its games will be shown exclusively on FOX, but the network has the right to show as many as 40 games on another nationally-distributed channel.

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

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

Paul Hagen is a reporter for