The Tampa Bay Rays are reportedly closing in on a local television contract extension with Fox Sports Net, worth an average of $82 million/year, through ’33 season; more than 4x the annual average of their expiring contract ($20 million). Despite poor attendance figures, Florida’s A.L. baseball team has historically drawn solid T.V. ratings. The club finished the ’17 season ranked 18th among league teams, after finishing 13th the year before; making the team’s games the most-watched cable programming on prime-time television within the Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg market, during both seasons. Under the terms of the expiring deal, Fox will pay $35 million for rights to broadcast games during the 2018 season.
Howie Long-Short: Assuming the deal is completed, the Royals (existing deal expires in ’19) and Marlins (existing deal expires in ’20) would be among the teams to benefit next from baseball’s booming local TV market. Project Wolverine (Marlins) projected T.V. revenues would exceed $50 million by 2021, a figure many doubted possible considering they’ll receive just $17 million, $18 million and $20 million over the last 3 years of their existing deal; but, while that figure remains ambitious (the team is last in the league in ratings), it no longer appears out of reach. Tampa’s new deal starts at $50 million/season in 2019.
Fan Marino: The Marlins held historic fire sales after the ’97, ’05 and ‘12 seasons, but according to the metric WAR (wins above replacement) no team has ever “traded more WAR from the proceeding season” than the 2018 Marlins. The team traded last season’s NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton (Yankees), Marcell Ozuna (Cardinals), Christian Yelich (Brewers) and Dee Gordon (Mariners).
Assuming the FCC approves the $52.4 billion sale of FOXA assets to Disney (DIS), expect Rays games to appear on ESPN’s new $4.99/mo. OTT service ESPN+ (launches late March, early April) no later than Opening Day 2020.
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