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ESPN - KBO broadcasting deal in jeopardy after ESPN tried to acquire rights for free


SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - APRIL 05: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Pitcher Lee Sang-Young of LG Twins throw a ball during their intra-team game to be broadcasted online for their fans at a empty Jamshil baseball stadium as South Koreans take measures to protect themselves against the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) on April 05, 2020 in Seoul, South Korea. South Korea has called for expanded public participation in social distancing, as the country witnesses a wave of community spread and imported infections leading to a resurgence in new cases of COVID-19. According to the Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday, 81 new cases were reported. The total number of infections in the nation tallies at 10,237. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

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Yonhap News is reporting that ESPN’s attempt to acquire broadcasting rights to the KBO League, South Korea’s major baseball league, might be coming up short due to ESPN wanting the rights for free.

ESPN’s desire to show Korean baseball was understandable given the lack of ongoing American sports, but free broadcasting rights are quite an outlandish request. The KBO has practically all of the leverage in this scenario given that ESPN has the need for content, and the league has that content. It’s unclear where exactly ESPN got the idea that they could somehow show KBO games without having to pay for the right to do so.

The KBO is aiming to start play next month and is generally regarded as having a higher level of play than Taiwan’s CPBL, which right now is the only game in town.

Needless to say, this is a disappointing development. Korean baseball is a whole lot of fun and would have been a welcome addition to the airwaves. Hopefully the two sides can come to an equitable arrangement.

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