Major League Baseball is finalizing negotiations with Fox Sports that will allow it to offer authenticated live streaming of games in 15 markets starting next year, according to a report from Sports Business Journal.
Fox currently holds the rights to 15 MLB teams and the MLB has been negotiating for live streaming for some time. The proposed deal will allow fans to access games via the Fox Sports RSN websites and FoxSportsGo app, and through distributors' Web sites and apps.
In return, MLB will require Fox's RSN Web sites to use MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM) as the vendor to manage the live streams. According to Sports Business Journal, citing unidentified sources, this will result in the RSNs paying the MLB an additional fee in the 'mid-to-high seven figures per team' in addition to the rights to the games.
This new requirement that Fox's RSN Web sites uses MLBAM as the vendor to manage the streams solves the previous roadblock to a deal. According to Sports Business Journal, the MLB wanted the streaming to occur through MLB.com to ensure high quality video streams but that ended up being a problem for cable operators, because operators did not want to share user authentication details with the league.
However, not all Fox RSNs are happy with the deal. Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA), which holds the rights to six MLB teams, is not inclined to use the MLB Advanced Media platform because the company competes with MLBAM for streaming business.
According to the Sports Business Journal, the deal is not finalized yet but the two parties hope to have an agreement signed by the end of the 2015 baseball season to give the RSNs time to market the availability of the new local live streams before the 2016 season begins.
The in-market streaming deal would be a boon for MLBAM. Earlier this month, the company announced it is taking over all operations for the National Hockey League's cable channel, websites and digital operations. MLB Advanced also handles backend streaming operations for WWE, Watch ESPN and CBS' March Madness On Demand, among other clients.
In addition, the Wall Street Journal earlier this month reported that the MLB is preparing to spin off MLBAM's tech unit and bring on board other strategic investors. If the plan is approved a board meeting later in August, Major League Baseball will hold talks with other investors.
- See this Sports Business Daily report
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