Forbes has released its annual franchise valuation package. In short: it’s good to own a ballclub:
The average Major League Baseball team rose 16% in value during the past year, to an all-time high of $605 million. In 2011, revenue (net of payments to cover stadium debt) for the league’s 30 teams climbed to an average of $212 million, a 3.4% gain over the previous season.
Obviously some teams do better than others, but that’s pretty healthy growth. And where is all of that value and dough coming from? Local TV:
Rights fees paid by cable television channels are behind the growth in team values. Aggregate cable television revenue for baseball’s 30 teams has increased to $923 million from $328 million over the past 10 years.
And that’s only going to increase — to as high as $1.5 billion by 2015, Forbes estimates — as new deals for the Angels, Rangers, Astros, Padres and Dodgers kick in.
Driving all of this is your DVR, which has devalued advertising for most programming, but which largely doesn’t impact live sports because people really like to watch live sports live. That has sent rights fees skyrocketing as Fox, Comcast and others have been willing to pony up big to show content with commercials people will actually watch. This is almost an almost exclusively local phenomenon too, as national rights have not been up for bid for a while and won’t be until next year.
Which, by the way, is another reason why anyone slamming baseball this fall over its abysmal national ratings and claiming that the sport is in trouble compared to the NFL has no idea what they’re talking about.
Rick Morissey of the Chicago Sun-Times published an article on Sunday giving a bit of insight into Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein. When Epsten was younger, he dabbled in sportswriting, but quickly realized the trade wasn’t for him.
As Morissey details, when Epstein was 19 years old writing for Yale’s student newspaper, he wrote an article suggesting the school’s football coach should be fired during what would become a 3-7 season. Epstein was told during the meeting that one writer would defend the coach and one would call for his job. “It was a lesson in the way that the world of journalism sometimes works. It was an eye-opener for me. I regret it, and I’ve happily moved on.”
Epstein continued, “I realized I didn’t want to be a sportswriter when I was interning with the Orioles back in ’92, ’93, ’94. I did do a lot of media-relations stuff, and I saw that the life of a sportswriter is pretty lonely. You kind of work by yourself, sit there by yourself in the press box, go back to the hotel bar. Not to generalize.” He added, “But I really respect writing and respect sportswriters.”
He’s not wrong, and he seems to have found his calling as a front office executive. His Cubs are back in the World Series for the first time since 1945.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis tweeted on Sunday, “Got a little too close to [Francisco Lindor] during the celebration!! Freak accident but should be good to go by Tuesday! #cantkeepmeoutofthisgame!”
Per MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, manager Terry Francona said Kipnis is dealing with a low ankle sprain, but he’s expected to be ready to go when the World Series begins on Tuesday. Kipnis went through fielding drills on Sunday.
Kipnis is hitting .167/.219/.367 with a pair of homers and four RBI in eight games this postseason.