The KBO is facing major changes in and around baseball this season.
First of all, while the final decision on whether to introduce pitch clock and automatic ball count (ABS) is being made through the board of directors on the 11th, the broadcasting rights have also seen a major change. This is because CJ ENM has been selected as the preferred negotiator for the wired and wireless (new media) KBO League broadcasting rights from this season to 2026.
On July 7, the KBO announced, “We will conduct detailed negotiations with CJ ENM, the preferred bidder, and will announce the contract size and key points once the negotiations are finalized.” CJ ENM has an OTT (Over The Top, a VOD service that shows broadcasts when users want on various platforms through the Internet, and in addition to Tving, there are Netflix and Coupang Play) service ‘Tving’, so there is no problem in broadcasting.
CJ ENM (TVing), NAVER Consortium (NAVER, SK Telecom, LG U+, and Africa TV), and ACL Entertainment (operator of Spotify and OTT Spotify Now) participated in the bidding process. The technical evaluation screening was held on the 5th, and CJ ENM was finally selected by the KBO. Now, in order to watch KBO League broadcasts on wired and wireless (new media), users must download Tving’s app, sign up for membership, and pay a monthly fee through a smartphone or smart TV. Although it is different from terrestrial/cable TV, the time has come when you can watch the KBO League without paying. It is the same as having to sign up for Coupang Play and make a monthly payment to watch Son Heung-min (Tottenham).
In this regard, baseball fans who have been enjoying the broadcast through smartphones/PCs for free through portals can make a lot of noise. In particular, there may be some voices protesting the KBO on the grounds of ‘universal viewing rights’. However, officials say that this wave of change has already been foreshadowed. It is time to pay for additional sports viewing through new media other than traditional mass media (TV). Major League Baseball has long offered paid services via OTT.
Although there is a barrier to live pay-per-view for general fans, CJ ENM’s biggest advantage that caught the KBO’s attention was its ability to create UCC. The biggest advantage of CJ ENM that caught the KBO’s eye is that it allows ordinary baseball fans to create UCC (User Created Contents). CJ ENM plans to open all of its daily highlights and clips services, except for the live service, and has announced that it will open all of them to YouTube and SNS. Even more unconventional, they also announced that they will allow individual YouTubers to create UCC by allowing shorts. This is another factor that led to the KBO being selected as the preferred negotiator.
As a result, UCC video production in baseball, which has been suspended for a while due to broadcasting rights issues, is expected to be revitalized from next year. If various contents can be produced, products that can be viewed from a different perspective can be created and another highlight can be produced.
The KBO League’s new media broadcasting rights business will drive a new trend in professional baseball.