ESPN and Major League Baseball Advanced Media have connected on a digital rights agreement that will enable the programmer to stream its MLB contests on its broadband service ESPN360.com.
The deal, expanding a deal that would have expired at season’s end, now runs through the 2013 season and permits ESPN360.com and ESPN Mobile TV to provide a live simulcast stream of the sports giant’s Sunday Night Baseball, Monday Night Baseball and Wednesday Night Baseball telecasts. Moreover, ESPN digital- media platforms will also be able to stream the Home Run Derby and other special MLB events for which ESPN holds TV rights.
ESPN began streaming games this past Sunday night.
With the pact, ESPN360.com further expands its portfolio of live contests that it either simulcasts or streams exclusively, including NBA and WNBA, NASCAR, college football, basketball and baseball, World Cup, UEFA Champions League and MLS soccer.
An ESPN spokesman said ESPN360.com, which thus far has run limited commercials within its content, would look to expand that position with its MLB and other fare in the "near future."
Under the pact, terms of which were not disclosed, ESPN.com and its network of sites also will be able to showcase more highlights than ever before and its mobile platforms ESPN Mobile TV, ESPN MVP will have newly expanded rights to deliver video highlights by themselves and as part of original shows.
The agreements also affords ESPN the opportunity to deliver MLB content on such alternative platforms as Apple’s iTunes Store and console game systems and Microsoft XBox Live. The company also holds the right for delivery on vehicles that may emerge during the course of the agreement.
These digital rights extend worldwide, except in select Asian and Pacific Rim markets.
“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 and ABC Sports, in a statement. “Our goal is always to deliver sports to fans across any platform, and this is yet another agreement that fulfills that strategy.”
Bodenheimer, speaking at kick off event for Monday Night Football on Tuesday in Manhattan, said ESPN would be interested in streaming its preeminent franchise. However, he said would not offer a simulcast of MNF on the “free Internet,” if it had the opportunity, like NBC will with its Sunday Night Football package this season on Nbc.com.