Turner to Televise Baseball League Championships

Oct 17, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Turner Broadcasting reached a seven-year agreement to televise one of Major League Baseball’s League Championship Series annually beginning in 2007.

TBS will have the National League Championship in odd-numbered years and American League Championship in even-numbered years. Fox will carry the other series each year.

Turner is paying between $40 million and $45 million a year for the rights, a person familiar with the matter said.

In July, the league struck new long-term broadcast deals with Fox, ESPN and Turner. Turner added exclusive coverage of baseball’s first-round division series starting in 2007 and a national package of Sunday night games beginning in 2008.

Fox in July made a deal with the league reducing the network’s postseason commitment, giving up one League Championship Series and the Division Series. Turner bid, and ESPN and Versus were interested in the rights, according to sources. Fox executives said they would air the games at the right price.

While admitting some disappointment in the ratings performance of this year’s playoffs so far, baseball commissioner Bud Selig refused to concede that championship series ratings would be necessary decline when they move to cable.

“I’m very optimistic about this relationship,” he said.

While Turner has carried Braves games on TBS for 30 years, it hasn’t had playoff baseball.

“This establishes TBS as the cable home of the national pastime,” said Turner Sports president David Levy.

Mr. Levy said he expected that post-season games would attract some official Major League Baseball sponsors that haven’t advertised on TBS before.