An example of growing revenues in Major League Baseball — which, coupled with stagnant player salaries describes the current labor acrimony in the sport — are the new national television contracts that start in 2022.
Deals with Fox Sports, ESPN, and Turner Sports average about $1.76 billion per year through 2028, a 13.5-percent increase over the previous national TV pacts. MLB teams’ coffers would increase another $100 million annually from ESPN should postseason expand to include a wild card round, which makes it one of the MLB Players Association’s biggest bargaining chips.
Television revenue could increase even more. Outside of a potential added playoff round, ESPN’s deal actually reduces the number of games televised by their family of networks, leaving the exclusive Sunday Night Baseball broadcasts intact.
That leaves weekday games up for grabs. Andrew Marchand at the New York Post reports that MLB is seeking $100-150 million for the weekday games, and is in talks with NBC Sports and Apple TV:
If a deal comes to fruition, most of the games are expected to be on NBC’s streaming platform, Peacock.
The Post has previously reported that Apple and MLB had held serious talks. While no deals are yet official, the expectation is that Apple and NBC would both be involved this year.
Under ESPN’s previous contract, most of its weekday games were blacked out in the home markets of teams involved, with local broadcasts the only avenue to watch games in each market, and ESPN granted only a handful of exemptions per team to show games locally.
It’s unclear what the process would be under a new contract with NBC and/or Apple TV. But perhaps more importantly, it’s unclear when there will actually be games to broadcast.
Speaking of having to pay to watch baseball games, but not involving teams in your own market, a cause of late — popular, at least in the insular Twitterverse — was to cancel MLBtv subscriptions before they auto-renewed on or about March 1, the idea being not to give the league your money while the season hangs in the balance. Perhaps in response to this, or maybe just trying to get out ahead of the topic, MLBtv said Monday they would not charge for any subscription renewals until a new labor deal has been struck.
Update on #MLBTV and MLB Audio subscription renewals: we will not bill for 2022 subscriptions today. Notification about renewal will occur once a new CBA is in effect. All current subscriptions will remain active until then. Subscribers, check your email for important updates.— MLB.TV (@MLBTV) February 28, 2022
After five years in Miami, Derek Jeter resigned as CEO of the Marlins, saying in a statement, “The vision for the future of the franchise is different than the one I signed up to lead. Now is the right time for me to step aside as a new season begins.” Ken Rosenthal at The Athletic noted the scrutiny of the Marlins’ paltry spending habits. Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner, who specified that he did not speak with Jeter, had similar thoughts:
Hot take— Justin Turner (@redturn2) February 28, 2022
My sources, common sense and reading in between the lines, tell me that one of our games greatest champions,Derek Jeter, is stepping away from a team with one of the best young pitching staffs in the game because ownership isn’t committed to winning and spending pic.twitter.com/93my6XrLZC