Major League Baseball and the Players Association have yet to reach an agreement on financial matters pertaining to the 2020 regular season, but a resolution may soon be reached.
With MLB setting a Sunday night deadline for the MLBPA to respond to their latest offer of 72 games and up to 80% of prorated salaries, which was rejected by the union, commissioner Rob Manfred may soon move to imposing a season schedule as he sees fit.
Although team owners and players are in disagreement over an economic plan — in large part stemming from the prospect of beginning the season without fans in attendance — the league is still conducting other business.
According to John Ourand and Eric Prisbell of Sports Business Daily, MLB and Turner Sports are on the verge of a TV rights deal for the network to continue broadcasting Wild Card, Division Series and League Championship Series games:
The two sides have agreed to the broad terms of an extension, though nothing has been signed formally. The deal will see Turner pay an average of around $470 million per year through 2028 — a deal that syncs with an extension Fox Sports signed in November 2018. Turner now pays an average of $325 million a year under an eight-year deal that expires after the 2021 season.
Turner’s 40% increase is in line with MLB expectations, especially considering that Fox agreed to a similar increase just 20 months earlier.
Turner will keep rights to one League Championship Series, two Division Series and one wild-card game, sources said. The expectation is that this deal does not include rights to any additional playoff games, which would have to be negotiated separately.
Turner Sports is also expected to keep with airing occasional regular-season games on TBS.
While the pending deal undeniably is a positive for the sport, the timing and optics of it could be much better. Particularly from the perspective of the owners, as some have claimed the sport is not profitable and thus paying full prorated salaries for games without any gate revenue is not feasible.
The doomsday scenario is not expected to come about, but Manfred previously indicated MLB would lose $4 billion if the entire 2020 season was cancelled.
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