The Golden Age of Radio was in the 1930’s and ’40 when families would huddle around the radio and be entertained by more than just music. Comedy, drama, news and sports were part of the entertainment offered on radio during the time before rabbit ears and cable TV. Welcome to the Golden Age of TV. Or is it the Golden Goose of TV Sports.
From 2014 to 2022, CBS, NBA, FOX and ESPN will pay $39.6 BILLION for NFL’s broadcast rights. Those are staggering numbers but the good news for NFL fans is that this pot of gold is divided evenly between the 32 teams. The pie is cut into 32 equal pieces so there’s no advantage between the biggest market (New York) or the smallest (Green Bay). Baseball is also swimming in TV money.
MLB recently cut new deals with FOX, Turner Sports and ESPN worth $1.55 billion. That means each team will start receiving roughly $52 million per year from national baseball TV rights in 2014, and keep getting $52 million a year through 2021. That’s just about double the amount of money that each team is currently getting per year from national TV rights. That’s fine, checks for everybody and a few a million a year for a decent fielding .235 hitting utility man.
National rights are one thing, but regional TV is something else and here’s where it gets sticky for baseball. This week it was reported that Fox Sports could pay as much as $6 billion to retain the Dodgers television rights. That’s 20 times the value of the Dodgers current TV deal and 3 times as much as the new owners paid to buy the team.
The new Dodger deal would average around $250 million a year. With national TV money that’s over $300 million a year before the Dodgers sell a ticket or a hot dog.
Other big market teams will cash monster checks. The Yankees new TV deal is expected to more than double their take after Fox Sports recently bought 49% of the YES Network. Why did the Angers write Albert Pujols a check for $254 million last year? That $3 billion/20 year deal Fox Sports West gave the Angels certainly helped.
The Texas Rangers have also cashed the regional TV check. Last year they entered a new deal with Fox Sports Southwest for a reported $1.6 billion over 20 years. Maybe that’s why the Rangers ponied up $111 million for Yu Darvish. Regional TV deals are creating a huge cavern between the have’s and have not’s. So the Dodgers will take in around $250 million a year, Fox Sports Milwaukee pays the Brewers around $12 million a year. $250 million against $12 million who wins that game.
Tradition be damned, colleges are jumping in and out of conferences because of football TV money and baseballs competitive balance has never been more challenged. It’s Money Ball for teams and players but The Golden Age of TV is less than Golden for sports fans.