Baseball revenue fell by fifty percent to $102 million in the three months ending Sept. 30, Atlanta Braves parent Liberty Media disclosed this morning. The current quarter will be even worse: The franchise’s push deep into the playoffs won’t produce any revenue, “given the structure of the MLB playoffs to accommodate COVID-19 safety protocols, but the Braves will incur modest expense due to travel and other associated costs,” the company stated in its third-quarter financials, released before the market opened today.
Poor financial results for the team aren’t a surprise—more than half the baseball season was cancelled due to the pandemic, and no fans were able to attend games. And while the team lost money during the playoffs, MLB’s situation overall would have been worse without the lifeline that media rights for the expanded playoffs produced.
The Braves overall saw revenue drop 48% to $110 million when adding in $8 million from rental income and fees from the team’s mixed-use facilities. Total expenses from running the team were $104 million, before adding in additional losses from depreciation, stock compensation and similar accounting-based financial adjustments. Bottom line: The Braves swung to an operating loss of $16 million, compared to a profit of $21 million a year ago.
Liberty Media also reported financials for its Formula One subsidiary. The racing group produced $597 million in revenue in the third quarter, compared to $633 million a year ago. More dramatically, the business swung to a $115 million operating loss from a $32 million profit last year. The revenue decline was mainly due to lack of fans at all but one of the 17 races in the quarter. That was offset partially by media and sponsorship revenue rising on a proportional basis—that is, more revenue per race. Those fees declined on a total basis.
Liberty Media management will hold a conference call with investors at 10 a.m. Eastern.