An interesting column from Phil Rosenthal of the Chicago Tribune about the Cubs’ upcoming TV deal.
Their current deal expires after the 2019 season and, given how these negotiations go and given how the Cubs are on the upswing as far as popularity and team quality are concerned, some might be thinking that the organization will max the heck out of the TV dollars with a multi-billion dollar deal like the Dodgers entered into with Time Warner.
The problem, of course, is that the Dodgers’ TV situation is kind of a mess, with far more households in the Los Angeles area unable to see the Dodgers than those which are. We’ve been over that at length and Rosenthal recounts that at the start of his column. You can just skim that part.
The interesting stuff comes after that. Specifically, Rosenthal’s argument that the Cubs should at least consider being the first elite, gold-plated sports brand that doesn’t seek to maximize TV dollars for their own sake in the interests of a more sustainable model which does a better job of reaching fans than an exclusive pay TV model does. Rosenthal notes the NFL’s deal with Twitter which was just announced and rumblings of how other online players, as opposed to just cable companies, might get into the business of steaming games to the masses without cable carriage disputes or, possibly, blackouts. Games streamed via Facebook? A true a la carte TV experience via Amazon? Why not?
We’ve talked about that topic an awful lot here lately ourselves. About how baseball should find a way to get its product to the most people. It’s a business, obviously, but like any business it needs to balance short term and long term growth. The cable deals which have plowed so much money into the game in recent years are the epitome of a short term strategy it seems to me. It’ll be interesting to see if post-Dodgers TV deals — like the one the Cubs will soon seek — thinks about these things a bit differently.
(thanks to Chris Jaffe for the heads up)