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Fox Sports, Major League Baseball ink seven year rights agreement

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MUMBAI: Fox Sports and Major League Baseball have inked an extensive seven-year national television rights agreement that keeps the World Series and All-Star Game exclusively on Fox through 2013.

In addition to the Fall and Mid-Summer Classics, the network continues as the exclusive home of the Fox Saturday Afternoon Baseball Game of the Week as well as the American or National League Championship Series on a rotating basis for the contract’s duration.

Fox Sports’ new agreement with MLB gives the network the rights to:

• Up to 26 Fox Saturday Baseball Game of the Week regionalised single-header broadcasts, an increase from 18 previously;
• Exclusive coverage of the American League Championship Series in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013;
• Exclusive coverage of the National League Championship Series in 2008, 2010 and 2012;
• Exclusive prime-time coverage of the World Series from 2007 through 2013 with Game 1 scheduled for the first Tuesday after completion of the LCS;
• Exclusive prime-time coverage of the All-Star Game from 2007 through 2013;
• This Week in Baseball, MLB’s award-winning, youth-oriented magazine show which precedes the Fox Saturday Baseball Game of the Week.

"Fox has enjoyed 11 terrific years as the broadcast home of Major League Baseball, having covered some of the game’s most memorable moments. Major League Baseball is as popular today as ever… with new young stars and veteran players performing before hundreds of millions of fans in-person and on TV each year. The schedule this agreement provides enables Fox to combine the most-watched games of the year with the No. 1 prime-time lineup in America," said Fox Networks group president and CEO Tony Vinciquerra.

"For some time now, Major League Baseball has been a key component of Fox’s programming strategy. The games are an invaluable promotional platform - for both our new series and returning hits such as House, 24, Prison Break, Bones, The Simpsons, and Family Guy. We look forward to many more successful years with Major League Baseball, and are eager to see who will be on top come October," said Fox Sports entertainment president Peter Liguori.

The expanded Fox Saturday Baseball schedule gives baseball an over-the-air, April-through-September, “Game of the Week” for the first time since 1989, and Fox also retains exclusive rights to the MLB All-Star Game, annually the highest-rated All-Star event in sports. In 2005, the MLB All-Star Game out-rated the NBA All-Star Game in households by +65 per cent (8.1 vs. 4.9), and the NFL Pro Bowl by +98 per cent (vs. 4.1). In its history, the MLB All-Star Game has never been beaten by any other All-Star event on a same-year basis.

MLB on Fox postseason coverage has been a significant contributor to the network’s prime time ratings success among adults 18-49. Fox research calculates that over the last five years, the World Series added a tenth of a ratings point on average to Fox’s Adults 18-49 season total, which is significant given that in each of the last three seasons the difference between first and second place has been just a tenth of a point.

By renewing its rights as the national broadcast home of Major League Baseball, Fox Sports is positioned as home to more of America’s most-watched sports events than any other network. In the last two years, Fox Sports has retained broadcast rights to the NFL through 2011, NASCAR through 2014 and now MLB through 2013, while adding coverage of college football’s prestigious Bowl Championship Series through 2010.

Fox Sports, already on its way to a tenth year as America’s top-rated network for sports, now boasts long-term agreements with each of America’s four highest-rated sports. No other network boasts a more robust, year-round schedule.

A look at the Fox Sports event lineup over the next four years in particular reveals just how full its schedule is from January through December:

Cotton Bowl (January 1)
Bowl Championship Series (January)
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
FedEx Orange Bowl
Allstate Sugar Bowl
BCS National Championship Game (2007-2009)
NFC Playoffs (January)
NFC Wild Card Game
NFC Divisional Playoffs (2)
NFC Championship Game (January)
Super Bowl XLII (February 2008)
Pro Bowl (February 2008)
Daytona 500 (February)
NASCAR regular- season coverage (February-May)
MLB regular-season coverage (April-September)
MLB All-Star Game (July)
NFL regular-season (September-December)
American or National League Championship Series (October)
World Series (October)

"Looking out over the next several years, Fox Sports has one of the most impressive, if not the most impressive, year-long schedules of any single outlet in the Big Four network era. Marquee sporting events have been, and will remain, among the best vehicles to corral mass audiences, especially hard-to-reach young males, and this schedule is about as DVR-proof as a sports schedule can be," said Fox Sports chairman David Hill.

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