ESPN, MLB Advanced Media Extend Rights Agreement Through 2013

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ESPN and Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM) have reached a digital rights agreement that will extend and expand their current agreement through 2013. The agreement includes rights for ESPN.com, ESPN360.com, ESPN's mobile initiatives (ESPN Mobile TV, ESPN Mobile Publishing, ESPN MVP), content on emerging platforms including video game consoles, interactive television and portable devices (ex: iTunes/iPod, Zune) and syndication of ESPN-licensed content. The deal also covers all new platforms ESPN creates or develops relationships with through the end of the agreement, and includes digital rights that extend worldwide (except select Asian and Pacific Rim markets). Paired with ESPN and Major League Baseball's most recent television deal and ESPN's deal for exclusive U.S. terrestrial radio rights, the combination represents ESPN's most comprehensive multi-platform collection of baseball rights ever.

 

"This agreement further solidifies the great relationship we have with Major League Baseball and together with our television deal, allows us to bring the game of baseball to more fans than ever before," said George Bodenheimer, President, ESPN, Inc. and ABC Sports. "Our goal is always to deliver sports to fans across any platform, and this is yet another agreement that fulfills that strategy."

 

Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig said, "Major League Baseball is very pleased with this opportunity to enhance our partnership with ESPN. We have a great relationship with ESPN and this new agreement will bring our game to our fans in a variety of new and exciting ways."

 

More than ever, fans consume sports across multiple media, and over the past five years ESPN has pioneered the strategy of delivering sports wherever and whenever fans seek it. In the past three years alone, ESPN has reached nearly 20 major multimedia rights agreements.

 

Under the new agreement, ESPN digital media's coverage of Major League Baseball will include:

* Live Game Streaming: ESPN360.com, ESPN's signature online TV network, and ESPN Mobile TV can simulcast all Sunday Night Baseball, Monday Night Baseball and Wednesday Night Baseball telecasts. ESPN digital media platforms will also be able to stream the Home Run Derby and other special MLB events for which ESPN has television rights.
* Expanded Online and Mobile Highlights: ESPN.com and its network of global sites will feature more highlights than ever before, and ESPN's Mobile platforms (ESPN Mobile TV, ESPN MVP) will have newly expanded rights to deliver video highlights by themselves and as part of original shows.
* Interactive Television: ESPN will work with MLBAM to develop interactive TV applications around baseball games and content.
* Interactive Online Applications: ESPN digital media platforms will continue development and enhancement of ESPN GameCast and may develop other interactive applications.
* Alternative Platforms: ESPN will be able to deliver MLB content as part of its offerings on alternative platforms, such as content download services like Apple's iTunes Store and console game systems such as Microsoft XBox Live, as well as other platforms which may be developed during the course of the agreement.
* Content Syndication: ESPN will have rights to syndicate some of the MLB content including video and data, that it presents on ESPN digital media platforms to ESPN digital media syndication partners.

 

Online, ESPN has long been a leader in delivering news, information, video and audio. Now, it has developed a similar position as a go-to service for fans on ESPN Mobile.

* Digital Video: Each month, fans view video on ESPN.com more than 130 million times. Through its many rights deals ESPN's digital media platforms are able to deliver fans highlights of nearly all major sports including Major League Baseball, NBA, NASCAR, major college sports, global soccer, NHL, major golf and tennis events, major horse racing events, AFL, WNBA, boxing, MMA and much more. In June (the most recent data released), ESPN.com had nearly twice as many unique viewers as its nearest competitor. The site generated 59% of the total streams in the sports video category and 61% of the total time spent viewing. (Nielsen Video Census). The site also draws a 122% higher-than-average concentration of the highly sought and hard to reach 18- to 49-year-old male video-viewing audience.
* Mobile: In June, ESPN.com had more than three times the traffic of the second most trafficked mobile Web sports site. So far in 2008, traffic to ESPN's mobile Web site is up 23% when compared to the same period last year (Nielsen Mobile).
* Online Audio: Each month, ESPN audio and video podcasts are downloaded more than 7 million times and more than a quarter million listeners for ESPNRadio.com live radio streams.

 

ESPN also holds television rights for Sunday Night Baseball, Monday Night Baseball, Wednesday Night Baseball and Baseball Tonight through 2013, and exclusive national terrestrial radio rights through 2010 for regular and post-season games (including the World Series), the Home Run Derby and MLB All Star Game.