- ESPN announces deal to broadcast South Korean baseball games starting Tuesday
- ESPN will air six games per week, usually Tuesday-Sunday
- NC Dinos vs. Samsung Lions will be first telecast
ESPN announced on Monday that the network has agreed to terms with the Korean Baseball Organization on a deal what will allow live KBO games to be broadcast in the United States. South Korea’s top professional baseball league is set to begin its season on Tuesday, with all 10 teams in action starting at 1am ET.
ESPN will air six games per week, usually one game per day from Tuesday through Sunday, starting with May 5’s Opening Day action. The games will usually air on ESPN2, but fans can also stream the games using the ESPN app. However, the first game, between the NC Dinos and Samsung Lions, will air on ESPN immediately after SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt.
ESPN Initially Asked for Broadcast Rights for Free
The announcement comes following rumors that ESPN had interest in securing the rights to broadcast KBO games. However, the network initially asked that they be given the rights for free, which wound up stalling the negotiations.
ESPN is desperate for any live sports content they can get right now with American sports largely on hiatus. UFC is set to return this coming Saturday with UFC 249, while NASCAR announced that it will begin to hold races starting later this month. Both sports will return without fans in the stands.
Burke Magnus, ESPN’s executive vice president of programming, said, “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. We have a longstanding history of documenting the game of baseball and we’re excited to deliver these live events to sports fans.”
ESPN’s own broadcasters will be calling the games remotely from their home studios. Karl Ravech, Jessica Mendoza, Eduardo Perez, John Sciambi and Kyle Peterson are among the broadcasters on board. Ravech and Perez are slated to call Tuesday’s opener between the Dinos and Lions.
The agreement has also given ESPN the rights to show KBO highlights on their news programs, such as SportsCenter. The games selected by ESPN will be announced on a week-to-week basis, and the network has reserved the right to amend the schedule depending on whether any live American sports, like Major League Baseball, happen to return at any point.
Un-Chan Chung, the commissioner of the Korea Baseball Organization, said, “The KBO League is one of the greatest baseball leagues with world-class players and many exciting initiatives. During this unprecedented and difficult time, I hope the KBO League can bring consolation to the communities and provide guidelines to the world of sports. I am pleased that the KBO League can be introduced globally and hope this can be an opportunity for the development of our league and the sport.”
The first six games on ESPN’s schedule are as follows:
|Tue, May 5||NC Dinos vs. Samsung Lions|
|Wed, May 6||Doosan Bears vs. LG Twins|
|Thu, May 7||NC Dinos vs. Samsung Lions|
|Fri, May 8||KIA Tigers vs. Samsung Lions|
|Sat, May 9||LG Twins vs. NC Dinos|
|Sun, May 10||LG Twins vs. NC Dinos|
As you can see, the NC Dinos, Samsung Lions and LG Twins will all feature heavily in ESPN’s first round of broadcasts. Viewers will also get a chance to see the reigning Korea Series champion Doosan Bears when they take on the Twins on Wednesday.
The KIA Tigers, who have won the Korea Series a record 11 times, will be in action on Friday against the Samsung Lions.