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Baseball is gonna make a lot of money on its next TV deal

Jul 3, 2012, 2:30 PM EDT

old TV

Richard Sandomir of The New York Times lays out the landscape facing Major League Baseball for when its TV rights come up for bid next year. Short version: MLB is gonna make boatloads of money as ESPN, Fox, TBS, maybe CBS and, especially, NBC all look to stay in or get in the live televised baseball business.

Full disclosure: I work for NBC. And I’d squeal like a little girl if NBC got MLB rights.

Seriously, though. Such decisions are way above my pay grade. Even third-hand discussion of such decisions are above my pay grade. Gleeman and I are only permitted to talk about baseball on TV with a six day delay, and only if we know anything, which we don’t, so I can’t intelligently or coherently comment about what NBC may or may not do that I didn’t first read in an article like the linked one here.

But Major League Baseball is my beat, and I can say what having a ton of eager competitors means for the league: a ton of money. Much, much more money than Major League Baseball has ever seen from a national TV deal.

  1. jarathen - Jul 3, 2012 at 2:34 PM

    Any interest in fixing draconian blackout policies that complete screw states with NO ACTUAL BASEBALL TEAMS? No? Just piles of cash and coat-wearing overweight cats cavorting around? Cool. That’s cool.

    • Loose Changeup - Jul 3, 2012 at 3:29 PM

      Seriously, this. One of the few advantages of not being anywhere near your favorite team is the fact that you can watch them on MLB.TV without having to deal with the blackout BS, unless your team is playing a team that is less than 8 hours away in a neighboring state, or however they figure those blackout maps.

    • thefalcon123 - Jul 3, 2012 at 3:50 PM

      Yep. As a Missouri transplant in New York, I don’t know how many Saturdays I am prevented from watching the Cardinals because they are being broadcast on Fox, but our Fox affiliate is showing the Yankees/Mets/Sox instead.

      What is the point of this?

      • Kevin S. - Jul 5, 2012 at 9:55 AM

        I have the exact same issue as a New Jersey native going to school on the North Shore. Oh hey look, Yanks are the game of the wee.. oh, no, Cubs have second billing. Boo.

    • spudatx - Jul 3, 2012 at 9:07 PM

      The Fox deal is outrageously bad for baseball fans. I literally watch LESS baseball because I can’t watch the team I want on Saturday afternoons even though I pay for MLB TV and live far from my favorite team.

  2. Ben - Jul 3, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    So I guess the baseball bubble isn’t going to burst anytime soon, huh?

    This young 20-something doesn’t have cable, and never will. Same with every single one of my friends. No one has cable. An entire generation has cut the cable. Hell, my parents are on the verge of replacing cable with Netflix for my Mom and MLB.tv for my Dad. How is this sustainable?

    • ss - Jul 3, 2012 at 2:43 PM

      Not every 20 something lives in Williamsburg.

      Some of us live in OTHER parts of Brooklyn, and we have cable.

      • Ben - Jul 3, 2012 at 2:46 PM

        Heh, I only lived in Brooklyn for 6 months. That was more than enough for me.

      • thefalcon123 - Jul 3, 2012 at 3:52 PM

        Yeah, some of us live in Queens and have cable, but never, ever use it and watch everything on our Roku instead, thus wasting a lot of money.

    • beefytrout - Jul 3, 2012 at 2:55 PM

      Because there are millions and millions of people who do have cable, dude.

      • Ben - Jul 3, 2012 at 2:59 PM

        But the whole thing is a pyramid scheme that forces consumers to subsidize content they simply don’t want–that’s how MLB is able to extract such high rents.

      • jarathen - Jul 3, 2012 at 3:01 PM

        The generational shift lags, sure, but you’ll see mroe and more people realize they pay $70+ a month for TV they don’t watch, or TV they never watched, as the younger demo continues to age into adulthood.

        I used to pay $125 for so-called “expanded cable” and internet (this rate included a DVR “rental” and service, but no “premium” channels). Now I pay $20 for internet, which has no taxes or fees. I pay for MLB.tv, Hulu Plus, and Netflix. I also get ESPN 360 for free through my provider. All together, it’s something like $46 a month for services I actually watch. When you take a long look at your budget for things to cut, cable rises right to the top.

  3. darthicarus - Jul 3, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    As long as part of any future contract guarantees that Chris Berman is never allowed to call a Home Run Derby again I could care less which stations aired baseball…as long as it’s televised somewhere. Heck, I’m perfectly happy with MLB Network and MLB Tonight to go along with my local Fox Sports and Tigers games.

    • The Dangerous Mabry - Jul 3, 2012 at 3:24 PM

      Back back back back back back back back back back back back…..

      • jlovenotjlo - Jul 3, 2012 at 8:56 PM

        I lol-ed

    • spudatx - Jul 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

      Does anyone even still watch the Homer Derby?

  4. mybrunoblog - Jul 3, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    This is just great. I really want my cable tv bill to go up. The $145 a month I pay now just isn’t enough.

    • Ben - Jul 3, 2012 at 3:09 PM

      Cancel it.
      MLB.tv, Hulu, Netflix, Itunes, Amazon Streaming all make it possible. Get someone’s HBO Go password who’s foolish enough to still pay for cable. Torrent if you have to. TheFirstRow is awesome. Cheaper. No ads. Only the content you want. Think of what you could do with 1500 dollars a year other than paying for cable!

      • jarathen - Jul 3, 2012 at 3:24 PM

        HBO Go’s greatest feature is that it doesn’t have a check against your actual subscription.

    • nategearhart - Jul 3, 2012 at 3:17 PM

      You have your economics backwards. You were already willing to pay so much for your cable, which gives the networks the moolah to pay extravagantly for MLB rights.

      • indyralph - Jul 3, 2012 at 3:39 PM

        This is not how economics works. No reasonable person/company is willing to lose money in the future because they made money in the past. They will charge mybrunoblog exactly how much they can to make the most money, with the ceiling being the point when there are too many Bens to charge that much.

      • nategearhart - Jul 3, 2012 at 3:50 PM

        They will charge as much as they can get away with at all times. When Ben pays it, that gives them more money to pay for rights to new programs that will bring in even more Bens.

      • indyralph - Jul 3, 2012 at 4:57 PM

        Sure. They will always charge as much as they can get away with at all times. They will also keep their expenses as low as possible at all times. It stands to reason that to incur an additional expense, they must expect at least an equal increase in revenue plus desired profit margin. They can do this because they expect to add more viewers, or because they expect they can charge their current viewers more for the improved product. Likely, it is some combination of the two. So it’s perfectly reasonable to think that the cable bill will go up. The only way the cable will not go up is if new programming attracts enough new viewers at the current price to pay for the entire expense of adding programming, or other market forces like Ben describes would drive down the price of cable and reduce profits in absence of the new programming.

      • indyralph - Jul 3, 2012 at 5:15 PM

        If anything, the cable bill comment is irrelevant because it is actually the TV network buying the programming in this case, not the cable company itself.

  5. samu0034 - Jul 3, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    I’d throw $20 into a community fund that would prevent either of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver from being allowed near a World Series broadcast booth again.

    • mybrunoblog - Jul 3, 2012 at 3:15 PM

      If you threw Joe Buck a $20 you may get more than you asked for in return

    • chumthumper - Jul 4, 2012 at 9:42 AM

      Please, do not limit it to just the World Series.

  6. js20011041 - Jul 3, 2012 at 3:13 PM

    Whichever network gets the contact, the first thing they need to do is to stop the regionalization of the Saturday “national” game. Pick one game and move the rest of them to another time slot so that we can watch them.

  7. stairwayto7 - Jul 3, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    ESPN only shows Yanks and RedSox so give them those 2 teams and the other networks can show the other 28 teams!

  8. randygnyc - Jul 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

    Isn’t CBS, NBC and Fox on free tv? No cable required. Funny how these young kids think they’re entitled to everything, for FREE. Torrents? You mean stealing someone else’s intellectual property and labor. Just call it what it is, theft. Cool, man, let’s “occupy” cable. Lmao at you punks.

    • jarathen - Jul 9, 2012 at 9:00 AM

      I thought I’d get broadcast TV with an antenna, but after buying two different indoor ones, it became increasingly apparent that I would need to go up on my roof to install an outdoor digital antenna to do so.

      But yes, you can get value for your buck, sure.

      I just want the ability to PAY to see the Angels play EVERY TIME THEY PLAY. Not only when they’re playing teams outside of the midwest.

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