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ESPN in record deal with MLB

Aug. 28, 2012 at 5:18 PM

NEW YORK, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- Major League Baseball and ESPN announced a multibillion-dollar deal that gives the cable network rights to show major-league games through 2021.

The agreement announced Tuesday is an eight-year extension of the current MLB-ESPN deal and covers the 2014-21 seasons. MLB said the agreement is the largest it has signed.

The deal is worth a reported $5.6 billion, basically double what ESPN was paying on an annual basis under its current arrangement.

"We're thrilled to renew our long-standing agreement with Major League Baseball into the next decade," said ESPN President John Skipper. "It's a great property. The enormous scope of what we acquired will provide fans with more live baseball and more ways to access baseball content than ever before."

The new agreement allows ESPN to reach into the baseball playoff pool. The network will have the rights to one of the wild-card play-in games each season. It was also given the right to show any regular-season tiebreaker games that may occur.

ESPN will be allowed to air as many as 90 regular-season MLB games a season, or 10 more than now. The network will also show as many as six games across the Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day holidays.

Also, ESPN said it will upgrade its studio studios and the ESPN Deportes package. ESPN Deportes will cablecast at least 21 Sunday night games and at least 25 Monday or Wednesday games.

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