Fox Sports and Major League Baseball Extend Rights Deal Through 2028

2018 World Series - The Boston Red Sox celebrate their 5-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers - Getty-H 2018
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The pact keeps the World Series and All-Star Game at Fox Sports, which also airs weekly games on its broadcast network.

Fox Sports and MLB have extended their rights deal through 2028, with more games on the Fox broadcasting network and expands the network's digital and Spanish-language rights. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but the current pact is valued at about $525 million annually and extends through 2021.

The new deal keeps the World Series, All-Star Game, one League Championship Series and two Division Series on Fox and Fox Deportes. Fox will also continue its 52-game, Saturday regular-season broadcasts. The number of regular and postseason games will increase of Fox in 2022. The pact includes expanded streaming, social media and highlight rights.

"Since we began our historic partnership with Major League Baseball more than 20 years ago, MLB games on Fox have provided some of the most iconic moments in American sports,” Lachlan Murdoch, executive chairman of 21 Century Fox, said Thursday in a statement.

Added Murdoch, "This significant multiyear agreement not only cements Fox’s role as Major League Baseball’s number one broadcast partner, it ensures that Fox will remain America’s leader in live sports well into the future."

Fox has been airing MLB since 1996, with lead announcer Joe Buck as a mainstay of the sport. The new deal marks a significant extension of that relationship; the league reportedly did not hold formal talks with ESPN or Turner, its other broadcast partners.

“We value Fox Sports’ commitment to baseball and are excited to continue our partnership with this new agreement," said MLB commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. "Their innovative presentation of Major League Baseball through game telecasts and special programming across all their platforms has helped strengthen and elevate our sports’ popularity.”

The deal comes on the heels of the Boston Red Sox's near-sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2018 World Series. The quick outcome was certainly a major reason why the series was down 23 percent compared to 2017, which also featured a Dodgers loss (against Houston), but went all the way to seven games. But even with the double-digit decline, this year's World Series still averaged more than 14 million viewers per game — a monster live audience in the context of a continually fracturing media environment.

Keeping baseball’s marquee event is a significant priority for the Murdoch-led New Fox, which has been in the process of refashioning its primetime lineup to showcase live sports and events. This season, the network kicked off a five-year, $3.3 billion deal to carry Thursday Night Football.

And coming up: boxing and wrestling. On Dec. 22, the network will broadcast its first primetime fight as part of a four-year deal for Al Haymon’s Premiere Boxing Champions (PCB). There also are several hours of special programming slated for the weeks prior to the bout. And next fall, WWE’s Friday night showcase SmackDown Live will join the Fox lineup via a five-year, $1.025 billion deal.