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Might a network help out a team on a bad TV rights deal stay competitive?

Jan 17, 2013, 9:50 AM EDT

old TV

Dave O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution spoke with Braves CEO Terry McGuirk about team finances and TV deals, and the conversation puts the disparity between teams with good deals and teams with bad deals into sharp relief: the Braves’ deal is rumored to be between $10-20 million annually. The Dodgers are looking at deals that could pay them $240 million annually. Yikes.

Still, McGuirk claims that the competition having a ten-fold plus advantage in annual TV money is not crippling to the Braves.  He also strongly agreed with this idea, which is one I’ve not really heard anyone mention before with respect to the disparity in TV deals:

McGuirk was asked about this hypothetical situation: If the TV deal someday put the Braves at a disadvantage and undermined their roster construction and their on-field performance, might it be in the TV rights holder’s best interest to reconsider the terms of the remaining part of the deal if it would help the team on the field and presumably in the TV ratings?

I suppose I can envision a situation where a network with baseball rights tells the team that it would chip in a little more to help the team sign some hyper-marketable player that could have an instant impact on the TV ratings. Think free agent Bryce Harper one day or something. But as for a network, in effect, becoming a team’s partner, sitting down and ensuring that the team is remaining competitive, eh, I’ll believe it when I see it.

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