Major League Baseball announced Thursday that it’s entered into a new multi-year, multi-platform rights deal with Fox Sports that will keep the World Series, All-Star Game, postseason games and games of the week on Fox and FS1 for the next 10 years.
The deal, according to Sports Business Journal and Bloomberg, is for seven years and worth $5.1 billion, a 36 percent jump over Fox’s previous deal with MLB. Fox’s deal with MLB wasn’t up, so this is just tacking on years to the existing deal. This covers 2021-2028, MLB announced.
MLB also finalized a new streaming deal with DAZN that will pay $300 million over three years and create an “NFL RedZone”-like baseball show.
The deals themselves aren’t a surprise. Fox and MLB have been linked tightly since 1996, but the numbers might jump out at you — $5.1 billion, with a b, is quite a bit of money.
And it proves important things about baseball in 2018 that might just bust a few of your favorite MLB narratives:
1. Baseball isn’t dying
The idea that baseball is “dying” is just foolish. Fox is willing to pay $5.1 billion to put baseball on TV. That should tell you all you need to know about how viable baseball’s business model is.
Not only that, but Fox is willing to pay 36 percent more than it did last time.
It isn’t NFL money, of course. Fox reportedly paid $3 billion for five years of Thursday Night Football earlier this year — which isn’t the league’s premier product.
Still, it’s a testament to the value of baseball, easy narratives aside.
2. Baseball has plenty of money
Another narrative to bust is the idea that fans are paying players’ salaries with tickets and hot dog sales. Look at how much baseball is making just from ONE national rights holder.
It doesn’t include what ESPN pays MLB or what individual teams’ cable rights are worth. Those pay teams around $100 million annually on the high end and $20 million on the low end. Half the league is nestled between $35 million and $60 million.
In 2018, total league salaries, according to Spotrac, were $4.1 billion — so you can see how TV rights alone give teams a decent headstart toward covering their payroll. And that doesn’t include all the other revenue streams like merchandise, digital rights and the money that MLB Advanced Media makes. For example: Every team got $50 million last year after BAM sold some of its assets to Disney.
So with free agency about to kick up and the Winter Meetings around the corner, let’s use the new Fox-MLB deal as a reminder: MLB is healthy and has plenty of money. When players start landing eight -and nine-figure contracts, remember how much the league is bringing in.
It’s just the players getting their fair share.
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