Let’s put that new ESPN rights deal in context.
While each team keeps its own local broadcast money, national TV money is split equally among all 30 teams. I’m assuming MLB gets the vig, so it’s not all divided up, but we’re just dealing with rough numbers here.
Beginning in 2014, ESPN’s annual payment for MLB rights will jump from around $306 million to $700 million a year. Meaning that the annual payment to each team will jump from just over $10 million to around $23 million. That’s $13 million more in each team’s pocket per year starting in 2014, though the ESPN deal alone.
Now, figure that there will be at least similar and perhaps greater proportional annual bumps for the deals currently held by Fox and TBS. Which are bigger money overall given that they include the playoffs. And that’s assuming that baseball and their would-be network partners don’t get creative and add in a new broadcast product of some kind. Figure then, what, $25 million more a year on top of the ESPN bump? $40 million? With numbers going they way they’re going right now, it’s entirely possible. The upshot of all of this means that, without doing a single thing, each major league team is looking at an increased cash payment of, at minimum, $40 million. Probably much more. Just for the national TV rights increase.
Put differently: the Dodgers seemingly insane assumption of the Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Adrian Gonzalez contracts will basically be paid for out of TV money eventually. The vast majority of the entire 2012 payroll for teams like the Padres, A’s, Rays, Astros and Royals will be covered.
It’s a new world out there. Or will be soon.