Fox Signs $5 Billion Extension With MLB

(Bloomberg) -- Major League Baseball and Fox Sports have have signed a multiyear extension to their broadcast contract, keeping marquee properties like the World Series and All-Star Game with the company after its parent completes the $71 billion sale of assets to Walt Disney Co.

Fox agreed to pay at least $5 billion over the seven-year extension, representing a 36 percent annual average increase over the existing contract, according to people familiar with the deal. Neither the league nor network disclosed financial terms in announcing the pact Thursday. Fox currently pays about $525 million a year.

The accord will keep MLB on Fox for the next decade and helps the company build a programming slate that will hinge in large measure on live sports. The media company will be focused on live sports, broadcasting and news after 21st Century Fox Inc., controlled by the Murdoch family, completes the sale to Disney next year.

Fox said it will receive expanded streaming, social-media and highlight rights. Beginning in 2022, the amount of regular season and postseason games televised by Fox will increase, the network said without being specific.

Ratings for conventional broadcast television, including baseball, are in decline. The World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox, for example, averaged 14.3 million viewers, down 23 percent from the year before.

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