Baseball fans that enjoy the ability to stream their favorite team’s games in market should be keeping an eye on the latest Major League Baseball media negotiations. Every regional sports network that held rights to stream the games of the teams they already hold linear TV rights to came to an end after the 2018 season. Now, the broadcasters and the league are locked in a battle for new terms headed into 2019.
Major League Baseball is demanding more money for the streaming rights. It also wants streaming deals signed by RSNs to run as long as their linear TV deals do. The RSNs have fired back saying that in-market streaming rights come standard with every other league’s media rights, and are not sold separately. They are also claiming that digital media changes too quickly to justify a streaming rights deal that matches a linear TV deal in length.
Joe Lucia of Awful Announcing says that this was never going to be a simple deal given how many factors have changed since the deals were last negotiated.
There are plenty of balls in the air here that will also effect negotiations. The pendingsale of the Fox RSNs is obviously one, but the launch of NBC’s new MyTeams app, which was essentially created as an easier way to follow teams that NBC owns the rights for, is another. Not having streaming rights for the handful of MLB teams that air on NBC Sports RSNs would be disastrous for the future of the app, even if the Cubs are still threatening to leave NBC Sports Chicago for their own RSN. Fox’s negotiations to extend their linear TV deal for the World Series and other marquee MLB events will also likely play a role in what happens with the in-market streaming rights.
While it is likely that a deal gets done before the 2019 regular season begins, it is hard to see which side will be the one to crack.