Congratulations, Arizona Diamonbacks – you’re the latest MLB team to get an infusion of cash thanks to a new local television deal! According to a report from the Arizona Republic, the Diamondbacks are “getting very close” to a 15 or 20 year local TV contract that will “double or maybe triple” the $31 million that the team is currently getting paid by Fox Sports Arizona.
The new contract will reportedly also be with FS Arizona and since there aren’t any other RSNs in Phoenix, this seems to be a given. Despite finishing with the worst record in baseball this past season, the Diamondbacks were a force on FS Arizona, averaging a 3.38 rating. The Diamondbacks were one of 11 teams to have the highest-rated, most-watched prime time programming in their market, edging out Phoenix’s CBS and NBC affiliates. It’s worth noting that of the other ten clubs to top their markets in prime time ratings this season, five have TV contracts that expire in the next five years, while four others have ownership stakes in their RSN.
With the Diamondbacks cashing in, who’s next? Aside from those five market-topping teams (Tigers, Pirates, Cardinals, Royals, Brewers), the two teams to keep an eye on are the Reds and Rays, both of whom will see their deals with FS Ohio and FS Florida respectively end after the 2016 season. Both clubs draw strong local ratings, and were second in local, prime time ratings in their markets. Then, we can start looking into the 2020s and beyond, and the local TV bubble (or whatever you want to call it) will be in the back of our minds.
And then, there’s this – a report from SBJ this week claimed that MLB and Fox had hit a snag in their discussions surrounding in-market streaming, and that local rights discussions with the Diamondbacks and Cardinals had been tabled. With the Diamondbacks’ deal nearing completion, could we have a solution to in-market streaming for the 2015 season? The report from SBJ states that Fox and MLB had agreed on a price for the streaming rights (apparently, low eight figures in total for Fox’s 15 clubs), but the major hangup remaining is the platform the streams would be hosted on – Fox Sports Go, or MLB.tv. Whatever the platform, you’d need a provider login, much like you do for services like Watch ESPN, Fox Sports Go, BTN2Go, and so on.
Imagine that. The Arizona Diamondbacks possibly helping end the chaos of in-market streaming.