It's been in limbo for months but ESPN (NYSE: DIS) and MLBAM finally have extended their digital rights deal through 2013. The just-announced agreement covers a plethora of digital platforms, including the right to live stream games and other events like the Home Run Derby when ESPN has TV rights. No financial terms yet but MLBAM doesn't come cheap. Some details:
-- Platforms include ESPN.com, ESPN360.com, ESPN's mobile initiatives (ESPN Mobile TV, ESPN Mobile Publishing, ESPN MVP), and emerging platforms including video game consoles, interactive television, interactive online (ESPN Game Cast) and portable devices (examples: iTunes/iPod, Zune, XBox Live). This includes "all new platforms ESPN creates or develops relationships with through the end of the agreement." It also covers syndication of ESPN-licensed content.
-- The rights extend worldwide with the exception of some Asian and Pacific Rim markets. Not sure yet which are excluded.
-- In addition to live game and event streaming, ESPN gets expanded online and mobile highlight rights.
Sports Business Daily points out that the deal comes seven months after ESPN exercised an out clause "three years into a seven-year, $140M deal." SBD says the live game streaming started with Sunday night's game, using Sports Center to fill commercial time.
By Staci D. Kramer