Sports | April 29, 2020 6:00 am

ESPN Close to Deal to Broadcast Korea Baseball Organization Games

The KBO's regular season is set to begin May 5

ESPN Close to Deal to Broadcast Korea Baseball Organization Games
Doosan Bears players practice ahead of a preseason game. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty)
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UPDATE, May 4th: ESPN has reached a deal with the KBO to broadcast six of the league’s games per week, according to Variety.

“We’re thrilled to become the exclusive English-language home to the KBO League and to showcase its compelling action and high-level of competition,”  ESPN executive VP Burke Magnus said in a prepared statement. “We have a longstanding history of documenting the game of baseball and we’re excited to deliver these live events to sports fans.”

According to a report from South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, ESPN is close to securing a deal to broadcast games from the Korea Baseball Organization once the KBO’s season begins next month.

Though the deal has not been finalized and financial terms remain unclear, the pact would reportedly allow ESPN to air multiple KBO games per week to an American audience for an unspecified amount of time. ESPN showed interest in broadcasting KBO games earlier this month to fill holes in its programming, but talks about a potential deal fell apart because the Worldwide Leader wanted to obtain the broadcast right for free, according to Yonhap News Agency.

The network has apparently reversed its stance and is now willing to make an upfront payment in addition to giving the KBO a percentage of revenue from game broadcasts.

The KBO’s regular season, which was originally supposed to open on March 28 but was postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, is set to begin May 5. When the season begins, it will start without fans in the stands, but there is a plan to gradually allow an audience back into stadiums until 20 or 25 percent of seats are filled.

KBO players will have their temperature taken multiple times before each game once the regular season begins, and umpires will wear both masks and gloves. Players won’t be required to wear masks, but they will be prohibited from spitting on the field during play.

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