Everyone tells me that baseball is dying, and then I go and read stuff like this from Maury Brown at Forbes:
Major League Baseball got some good news on the financial front ahead of their All-Star Game, when credit benchmark company Fitch Ratings reaffirmed baseball’s ‘A’ status on the league’s $500 million senior secured credit facility. Fitch also affirmed the ‘A’ rating on the outstanding $995.85 million term notes the league is carrying. They rate MLB as “stable”.
While fans have looked at declining television ratings for Major League Baseball at the national level, baseball continues to be a financial juggernaut, and Fitch honed in on that.
As Brown notes, all of the things people say about baseball — that the national ratings suck, that the demographics make the Republican Party membership look young, hip and vibrant and that the sport somehow no longer occupies a favored place in the national consciousness — the fundamentals of the sport are still strong. It’s profitable, its TV deals are lucrative and attendance continues to be strong.
This is probably one of those deals, we’ll be told sometime soon, where the numbers don’t tell us everything and that, really, in every way that matters, the sport is indeed doomed. Wait for it. You know it’ll come.
Earlier this year Disney agreed to purchase the majority stake in BAMTech, the digital media company spun off from MLB Advanced Media. We know it as the source of the technology for MLB.tv and MLB.com, but it’s far more wide-ranging than that now. At present it powers streaming for MLB, HBO, NHL, WWE, and, eventually, will power Disney’s and ESPN’s upcoming streaming services.
The company was started by an investment from baseball’s 30 owners, so they’re getting a big payout as a result of the acquisition. Earlier this morning Jim Bowden dropped this regarding how much of that payout is in the offing in the short term:
That’s probably on the low end, actually. Some people I’ve spoken to who are familiar with the acquisition say the figure is more like $68 million in Q1 of 2018.
Good for the owners! It was a savvy, forward-thinking investment that, in the past, baseball owners might not have made. Bud Selig, Bob Bowman and others deserve credit for convincing the Jeff Lorias and Jerry Reinsdorfs of the world to think big and long term. It’s money out of the sky, raining down upon the owner of your baseball team for, basically, doing nothing.
Money which should be remembered when your buddy complains about a relief pitcher getting $6 million for only pitching 65 innings. Money which should be remembered when your team’s GM says that he has to cut back on payroll in the coming year.