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During the company’s quarterly earnings call Thursday, Disney CEO Bob Chapek said that the company was “in conversations” with the NFL about its NFL Sunday Ticket package. Sunday Ticket, which has been exclusive to satellite provider DirecTV for more than 25 years, features out-of-market NFL games.
Chapek added, however, that the company would only do the deal if it thought it would be profitable, and make financial sense.
“While our overall strategy is still very supportive of our linear business, with every deal we make, we are considering both the linear and DTC components,” Chapek said on the call.
That balance between striking new deals while being fiscally responsible was on display with a new rights deal Disney announced Thursday: A long-term agreement with Major League Baseball, which will keep Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN through 2028 while allowing for simulcasts on ESPN+.
The MLB deal also includes five additional games per season, the Home Run Derby, and the right to do alternate presentations (such as a stats or betting-focused simulcast), as well as Wild Card rights.
“ESPN’s longstanding relationship with Major League Baseball has been a driver of innovation for three decades,” said ESPN and sports content chairman Jimmy Pitaro. “This agreement solidifies Baseball’s ubiquitous presence across ESPN platforms, including ESPN+. The impactful collection of exclusive content, including Sunday Night Baseball which has served as the signature MLB series for more than 30 years, will be amplified by the surrounding rights we have to make these live events even bigger.”
However, ESPN’s deal is also smaller in scope that its last deal, which also included multiple weeknight games Mondays and Wednesdays. By focusing on its marquee weekly game but adding streaming rights, ESPN can save money while also bolstering ESPN+.
ESPN also announced a new deal with LaLiga for English and Spanish-language rights for ESPN+. ESPN is already the home of Spanish Copa del Rey, Copa de la Reina and Supercopa de España, giving it near total rights to the major Spanish leagues.
“As the sport of soccer continues its ascendance in the U.S. market, we are incredibly excited to work with LaLiga to establish a deeper connection to American fans through our company’s industry-leading streaming platforms, television networks, and digital and social media assets” said Burke Magnus, executive vp programming and original content for ESPN.
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