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UPDATE: Pirates president is overstating the team’s TV deal

Dec 17, 2013, 12:18 PM EDT

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UPDATE: I spoke to a source with knowledge of the Pirates’ TV deal, and the source tells me that the deal is not in the top half of MLB TV deals in terms of average annual value. Far from it. If, as Coonelly says, the Pirates are in the top half of all deals it’s a function of some front-loading of the deal and that gave them a lot of TV money in 2013 and that, as time goes on, the deal will look worse and worse.

This definitely would reflect market size. And makes one wonder why Coonelly would be trying to talk up the TV deal as better than it really is.

10:20 AM: That is, if team President Frank Coonelly is being accurate here. Bob Smizik of the Post-Gazette reports Coonelly’s comments at a recent fan fest thing:

”Our TV contract places us in the top half of all Major League Baseball clubs even though our market ranks 27th out of 30. We are well positioned moving forward.”

This runs contrary to Wendy Thurm’s report at Fangraphs on team-by-team TV revenue and, frankly, runs counter to what most people would expect based on the size of the market. Is Root Sports overpaying the Pirates? Are all of the other other networks underpaying the teams they broadcast?

And, as Smizik wonders, is the Pirates payroll too low for a team making as much money as the Pirates are, accordng to Coonelly anyway, making? Smizik estimates that a top-half TV deal puts them in the $35 million to $40 million range on local TV money, not the $18 million to $20 million range Thurm and others estimate.

Interesting stuff about a topic that, increasingly, is dominating the discourse when it comes to the business of major league baseball.

  1. bfunk1978 - Dec 17, 2013 at 10:35 AM

    And all that money is why I can’t stream games for certain teams because I live in their “territory” (even though it takes me 3 hours to drive to a major league stadium).

  2. surefooted1 - Dec 17, 2013 at 10:51 AM

    Just going to make their minuscule payroll look even worse.

    • fanofevilempire - Dec 17, 2013 at 2:10 PM

      the owner will write himself a BIG bonus check rather then sign a free agent.
      another baseball team on welfare.

  3. babyfarkmcgeezax - Dec 17, 2013 at 10:58 AM

    Nothing that comes out of Frank Coonelly’s mouth is to be trusted.

    • gloccamorra - Dec 17, 2013 at 11:15 AM

      I wouldn’t go that far, but I suspect hyperbole is involved. It’s kind of dumb since that quote will be trotted out every time ticket, parking, and concessions prices are raised. I’m also suspecting the giant sports network deals are a bubble. They all depend on the cable carriers shelling out cash per subscriber, and a lot of those carriers aren’t going to be willing to pay multiple networks to carry games in some areas with teams having different networks.

  4. pitpenguinsrulez - Dec 17, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    Just more money for that con artist Bob Nutting….screw him! I will never ever care for Nutting. Should’ve sold the team to Burkle and Lemieux.

  5. gibbyfan - Dec 17, 2013 at 11:29 AM

    Looking at the Fangraph article it would seem clear that the financial disparity between teams is absolutely stunning. You would think it would leave teams like the Cardinals, Rays, A’s and Braves irrelevant. I guess it must be a testiment to their extraordinary competence and abilty as opposed to many of their peers, either that or I am missing something.

    • gloccamorra - Dec 17, 2013 at 12:12 PM

      You didn’t miss anything. It’s always been the case that having lots of money, and spending what you have wisely are two different things. In baseball, they’re sometimes mutually exclusive.

  6. babyfarkmcgeezax - Dec 17, 2013 at 12:39 PM

    Coonelly negotiated a bad deal with ROOT, and then it looked a lot worse soon after when a bunch of other teams pulled off huge TV contracts. Maybe he was hoping Pittsburgh fans would take him at his word with his “top half of MLB” comment and forget about the reality that the Pirates are stuck in a bad contract that he helped produce. Actually, that is probably exactly what he was thinking – he is too dumb to think about how this comment could come back to bite him repeatedly in the future. This is the same man who once defiantly proclaimed the front office would start spending money on the roster only when fans started filling the stadium, even though during those years the roster was a minor league team in a major league uniform.

  7. yahmule - Dec 17, 2013 at 1:42 PM

    When deliberately intoned that it was “worth one billion dollars” with his pinky to his mouth, you guys didn’t realize you were being trolled?

  8. benrob99 - Dec 17, 2013 at 10:06 PM

    The whole front office from the ownership on down is an absolute joke. Nutting said many years ago that we were rebuilding and when the “time was right” they’ll increase payroll. Then a couple years ago Coonely comes up with “when the fans come out we can raise the payroll. Well after coming one win away from the NLCS and attendance has risen almost 40% over the past 4 years….. THIS off season comes this gem. “If players are looking for fair market value they are going to be signing elsewhere” This team is a joke and will slide back to obscurity soon. Sure… Nutting wouldn’t mind winning… as long as that doesn’t interfere with him making money hand over fist.

  9. thepittsburghkid - Dec 17, 2013 at 11:22 PM

    Benrob you have zero idea what your talking about. The pirates have raised their payroll the past three years. The payroll figures are out there, look them up. Who did you want to sign? These Steeler fans who watched half a season of baseball and then think they understand baseball need to go.

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