Another major long-term sports deal just got inked, and television's grim reapers — the tech platforms — failed to deal a death blow to the TV ecosystem.
Fox said Thursday it has a new deal to extend its two-decade-long relationship with Major League Baseball by another seven years. Variety reports suggest Fox is paying $5.1 billion, which translates to a 30 percent rise over the previous deal.
Facebook acquired streaming rights for 25 weekday MLB games and Amazon acquired non-exclusive rights to Thursday Night Football, but tech players have not yet stepped up to write the big checks for exclusive rights.
Fox will win some additional streaming and social media rights in addition to its current TV license, but it appears that Amazon and any other tech platforms failed to swoop in and take MLB away from broadcast TV.
Patrick Crakes, a former senior vice president of programming at Fox Sports who is now a sports consultant, said: "If MLB thought a digital partner was viable/worth the risk they would not have agreed to the extensions. Truth is there's a lot of risk for leagues, teams and conferences in partnering with platforms."
MLB, which also has deals with ESPN and Turner, did however create something of a new digital window. Moments after the news of the new Fox deal broke, John Skipper's new venture, DAZN, shared news that it's creating a new live show hosting coverage of highlights of ongoing games. It's being described as akin to NFL’s "Red Zone" offering, which breaks into important moments in live games. Skipper, a former president of ESPN, is looking to grow DAZN into a new subscription sports venture, financed by billionaire Len Blavatnik.
Meanwhile Fox's tab for sports is ballooning.
* MLB $5.1 billion from 2021-2028
* NFL Thursday Night Football $3 billion from 2018-2022
* WWE $1 billion from 2019-2023
Today, we announced the launch of our new partnership between @DAZN_USA and @MLB. Starting April 2019, we’ll produce a daily live look-in show where we bring fans every key play, every weeknight, from all 30 teams. Excited to get started! pic.twitter.com/0MUIYnEaXI— John Skipper (@JohnSkipper) November 15, 2018