South Korea's professional baseball league, the 10-team Korean Baseball Organization or KBO, just celebrated the opening day and the start of the scheduled season of 144 games. With Major League Baseball on hold, ESPN announced it will be broadcasting six KBO games per week.
Here's a quick introduction to getting you up to date on the KBO so you can pick a favorite team and start your summer with live baseball on ESPN.
What is the KBO?
The KBO is the best professional baseball league in South Korea. It started with six teams in 1982 and has since expanded to ten teams. Teams are not named for where they play, but for the business entity they own.
These are the ten KBO teams and the city where they play their home games and the year the team was founded:
- Doosan Bears (Seoul, 1982)
- Hanwha Eagles (Daejeon, 1986)
- Kia Tigers (Gwangju, 1982)
- Kiwoom Heroes (Seoul, 2008)
- KT Wiz (Suwon, 2015)
- LG Twins (Seoul, 1982)
- Lotte Giants (Busan, 1982)
- NC Dinos (Changwon, 2013)
- Samsung Lions (Daegu, 1982)
- SK Wyverns (Incheon, 2000)
The Doosan Bears and SK Wyverns were the best teams last season, finishing with identical 88-55- 1 data. The Bears managed to beat the Kiwoom Heroes in four games to win the 2019 title.
The Kia Tigers are the New York Yankees of the KBO and have won 11 Korean championships, but never finished second. Second in the league titles are the Samsung Lions with eight, followed by the Bears (6) and SK Wyverns (4).
Two of the league's original six teams – the LG Twins and Lotte Giants – have only won two championships since 1994. The Hanwha Eagles look like the dear losers of the KBO, who have had only one title since the beginning won games in 1986. The league's three newest teams – the Kiwoom Heroes, NC Dinos and KT Wiz – have never won a title.
Here's what you need to know about each KBO team to pick a favorite for your basic interests this year. Let Mookie Betts introduce you to some of the stars of the KBO:
How does the KBO differ from MLB?
There is no DH debate in the KBO; all teams have a designated hitter. Games can also end in a tie. After 12 innings, a game is declared a tie and not counted in the regular season. Playoff games can also end in a tie after 15 innings and the game will be played again. Five out of ten teams qualify for the playoffs, culminating in the best-of-seven Korean Series championship. Finally, bat flipping is an art in the KBO.
When are KBO games on TV?
The KBO plans to play the full program with 144 games, but if a player or coach tests positive for COVID-19, the league will be closed for at least three weeks. And matches are played in empty stadiums.
The KBO 2020 season started earlier (waaay earlier, at 1 a.m.ET due to the large difference in time zones between the US and South Korea) on Tuesday May 5 with a clash between the NC Dinos and Samsung Lions that was broadcast live on ESPN. Don't worry if you slept and missed it; the game will be rebroadcast at 3pm. ET on Tuesday May 5 on ESPN2 and more games will be shown live this week.
ESPN plans to broadcast six KBO games per week live. Most games will be shown on ESPN2 Tuesday through Friday at 5:30 AM ET, Saturday at 4:00 AM ET, and Sunday at 1:00 AM ET. In the US, you'll also find rebroadcasts of games at more reasonable hours throughout the week. In addition to regular season games, ESPN has the right to broadcast KBO postseason games, including the Korean Series.
You hear familiar ESPN voices calling the games. According to ESPN, Karl Ravech and Eduardo Perez are calling along with Jon Sciambi, Jessica Mendoza and Kyle Peterson. ESPN announcers will call the games remotely from their own homes.
Watch KBO games
KBO games are broadcast on ESPN and ESPN2, and you can too watch on ESPN.com or the ESPN app, but you need to log in with a pay TV account (usually from a cable or satellite provider) with ESPN to watch live online or with the app. If you don't have a pay TV subscription, you can watch KBO games with a live TV streaming service.
All of the above live TV streaming services offer free trials, allow you to cancel at any time, and require a solid internet connection. Looking for more information? Check out our huge streaming services guide.
How can I get these services on my TV?
These services are widely available on game consoles and smart TVs, but if you need to add them to an older TV, add-on options like.