ABC flips over winning Series

ABC Sports prez Dennis Swanson called “heads” Tuesday and landed his network broadcast rights to next year’s World Series.

NBC will air the two League Championship Series and the All-Star Game under the compromise originally worked out by the networks and Major League Baseball. ABC also would televise a new proposed round of divisional playoffs, assuming that tier of games is agreed to by the players’ union.

That broadcast formula will rotate between the two webs for the duration of ABC and NBC’s six-year baseball deal, meaning the Peacock network will broadcast the World Series in 1995 and ABC the LCS and All-Star Game.

The World Series traditionally provides much higher ratings than the League Championship Series, although the latter involves more games; however, the new broadcast agreement calls for LCS contests to air on a staggered overlapping basis that has drawn criticism from many baseball fans and pundits.

In addition to the playoffs, the networks will split a dozen primetime weekly telecasts beginning July 16 with six games on ABC.

Baseball returns to the two networks after a four-year hiatus brought about by CBS’ exclusive pact. The Eye network will broadcast its last round of the playoffs — assuming a players’ strike doesn’t derail the showcase — this fall.

Ken Schanzer, CEO of the newly formed baseball venture, handled the coin toss , agreed to by ABC and NBC at the outset as the means of determining the order in which they’d divvy up the playoffs. The baseball-network arrangement forgoes a traditional rights fee in exchange for revenue sharing by the webs and the baseball owners.

Aside from uncertainty about the divisional playoffs, other potential complications include if two teams from the same city were to make the playoffs. In that case, the networks have agreed to show both games in their entirety on their owned-and-operated stations.

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