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NBC leaves Fox alone on TV deal


Major League Baseball is expected to announce today that all of its postseason telecasts and the All-Star Game will air exclusively on Fox and its cable channels beginning next season.

Officials at NBC, which has had half of the playoff broadcast package for the past four years, announced from Sydney, Australia, that they would not match Fox's offer, which would have cost NBC a reported $175 million per year.

"We have notified Major League Baseball that we have passed on their offer and we wish them well going forward," NBC Sports president Ken Schanzer told the Associated Press.

Fox, which has aired the Saturday afternoon game of the week since 1996, as well as the World Series in 1996 and 1998, has offered MLB $2.5 billion for the rights to all of the postseason through 2007, starting next year.

ESPN, which carries up to seven Division Series games each year, has also passed on Fox's bid, according to industry sources. ESPN will continue to air regular-season games for the next five years, though F/X and Fox Sports Net will air selected Division Series games, starting next year.

Officials from Fox declined to comment.

Baseball's current postseason deals with Fox, NBC and ESPN expire after the World Series, to be aired this year by Fox. Under the terms of the current $1.15 billion, five-year contract, Fox and NBC alternated the World Series and All-Star Game, and split the respective League Championship Series.

This will mark the first time since 1993 that one network has carried all of baseball's postseason. In that year, CBS concluded a four-year, $1 billion contract, which lost that network millions.

After no one bid on postseason rights, MLB bought time on the networks and formed the disastrous Baseball Network for two seasons, before Fox, NBC and ESPN signed their contracts.

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