Major League Baseball (MLB) has announced increased coverage in Europe and Africa is set to be provided to added after expanding its pre-existing international rights deal with ESPN.
The new agreement covers both the upcoming 2020 season as well as next year’s 2021 season and will see MLB remain on Fox Sports in the Netherlands and on ESPN’s TV channels in Africa for a further two seasons.
As well as this, the expanded partnership is also set to include live over-the-top rights across much of Europe and all of sub-Saharan Africa, thus bringing MLB to 96 countries across the two continents through the ESPN Player subscription service.
Commenting on the news, Frank Rutten, ESPN Europe & Africa, stated: “ESPN and MLB have a long and proud history of working together across the globe, and we’re delighted to build the relationship further in Europe and Africa.
“MLB is at the pinnacle of American sports, and we’re looking forward to bringing millions of fans every home run, shutout and grand slam of what is set to be a thrilling 2020 season.”
In addition to the extended coverage, the MLB Network will also be included on the ESPN Player portfolio as the league-owned service joins four other live channels: ESPNU, the SEC Network, the ACC Network, and the Longhorn Network.
Exact broadcasting rights are expected to vary depending on the specific market, however, the extended deal between both organisations covers regular season fixtures, with up to 10 live games per week, as well as midseason exhibition events such as the All-Star Game and Home Run Derby.
The new MLB season is scheduled to get underway on 26 March with ESPN’s coverage including the opening night fixture between the reigning American League champions, Houston Astros, and the LA Angels.
With this being said, the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak could yet delay the start of the baseball season as it continues to spread across the US. As it stands, the NBA has suspended its current season with both the NHL and the MLS monitoring the situation.