Microsoft Buys MLB Content Distribution Rights

NEW YORK Microsoft has inked a multi-year deal with MLB Advanced Media that will give subscribers to its premium broadband service access to live, archived and condensed Major League Baseball games.

As a part of the deal, Microsoft gains the rights to distribute live, out-of-market video broadcasts of some 250 games a month, as well as post-game highlights and radio feeds, among other features to high-speed Internet users who have a $9.95 per month MSN Premium subscription. MSN 9 dial-up subscribers can receive live audio broadcasts of every game.

Non-MSN users who register through MLB.com must pay $19.95 per month or $99.95 per season to get the live video and radio broadcasts and $14.95 for the audio-only alternative.

MSN will manage and sell all advertising on the MLB video and audio services and other related areas. Extensive co-branding, marketing and promotional activities from both MSN and MLB.com are also involved.

In addition, the deal does not limit MLB.com’s ability to use formats or technology other than Microsoft’s Windows Media. Earlier this month, RealNetworks filed a lawsuit against MLB Advanced Media, alleging that the organization violated an agreement to carry games in its streaming multimedia format.