The Dodgers are getting ready to close on a new local TV deal that will pay the team up to $7 billion over 25 years to show its ballgames, according to Yahoo Sports.
That's pretty terrible news for baseballs middle market clubs. It's not difficult to understand how such a deal is likely to be devastating to the blue collar clubs in baseball -- which includes the Redbirds.
Simply put, the Dodgers have $250 million PER YEAR in local television revenue. According to Forbes Magazine, the Cardinals total revenue stream for the 2011 season was $209 million and $95 million of that came from gate receipts. So, if the Dodgers drew about the same number of fans as the Cardinals and paid a similar price for tickets, they'd have $345 million in money to spend on making their ballclub competitive while the Birds would have 61 percent as much money as Los Angeles.
Yahoo reports that the Phillies are on the verge of a new televeision deal in addition to new television packages set to kick in for the Angels, Rangers and Astros.
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The Cardinals have traditionally functioned as a larger market team because of the intense fan loyalty in the St. Louis area -- and across the midwest. The Redbirds call one one of the smallest markets in baseball home. But they're usually in the top five clubs in attendance because they draw from Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Tennessee as well as their local market in Missouri and southern Illinois.
But, while they have enjoyed the highest percentage of viewership in the majors over the last three years, those ratings don't mean much when the total number of viewers in Cardinals Nation is less than the number of people in New York or Los Angeles. Houston, the fourth largest city in the country, doesn't enjoy the loyalty to baseball that St. Louis has. And, their deal, although it triples what they were getting for local TV broadcasts before, pales in comparison to the big boys.
Having the rich clubs pay a third of their television deal to a pool spread amongst 20 or 25 teams in smaller markets accomplishes nothing except enabling a team like the Marlins to field a low end roster and be content to watch 8,000 people sit in the stands to watch a game.
If baseball doesn't come up with a true revenue sharing system soon, owners are going to kill the golden goose just when it started to lay its most valuable eggs.