06 March 2006

News from around the league

It's time for another round of baseball business news prior to Opening Day.
  • Sportstime Ohio is the new cable home of the Cleveland Indians. The network so far has only Indians broadcasts and related content such as pre and postgame shows. With less than a month to go before the season starts, only one major cable provider has inked a deal: Time Warner. Other cable companies such as Cox, Comcast, and Adelphia are balking at what is considered an exhorbitant cost to carry the channel, considering the limited content. This same problem plagued both the Twins and Yankees. The Twins ended up losing the battle and signed a long term deal with Fox Sports Net, while the Yanks persevered after over a year and got the YES network on Cablevision. STO will carry the lion's share of games, 138 in all including 8 spring training contests.
  • Not to be outdone, the New York Mets have created their own network, Sportsnet New York, in hopes of reaping in huge amounts of local TV money. GM Omar Minaya's rash of free agent signings in the offseason was largely in anticipation of the new revenue stream. Talk about saturation, NYC now has four separate, not quite independent RSN's: MSG, FSNY, SNY, and YES. MSG is owned by Cablevision. FSNY is partly owned by MSG. SNY is owned by a partnership of the Mets, Comcast, and Time Warner. And you thought these companies were supposed to be competitors.
  • Since the Florida Marlins aren't exactly sure where their new home will be, they can't start a RSN in the Miami area. That didn't stop them from pulling an unprecedented (for baseball) move. The Marlins are broadcasting the entire 2006 season on FSN Florida, 150 games in all. Some of you have asked why the A's don't simply do this given the weak signal from San Jose-based KICU. Frankly, I don't know why. Comcast has to twittle its thumbs for the next 4 years while the A's, Giants, Sharks, and Warriors deal with frequent scheduling conflicts.
  • Speaking of the Marlins' next home, San Antonio appears to be the frontrunner at this point, with a ballpark proposal being prepared by Judge Nelson Wolff, who apparently is a major sports fan. If San Antonio does get the Marlins, they'll be in the smallest TV market in the bigs - and they'll be sharing it with the Spurs to boot. Is San Antonio being used? Yes, but all cities that entertain these types of discussions are being used, and they should be fully aware of it.
  • MLB finally signed a lease with the District of Columbia, though they did not sign off on the idea that either MLB or the Nats' new owners would pay for cost overruns. Some DC pols didn't appear to be dismayed by this, but opponents of Mayor Anthony Williams' plan to use excess tax revenue to pay for overruns haven't wavered on their stance - and it's this plan that is a condition of MLB's lease. Evictions are supposed to start happening on the ballpark tomorrow, and the ballpark, which was originally supposed to be ready for Opening Day 2008, will probably slip to the 2008 All Star Break if not later. Having the Nats play in RFK Stadium for another half-season will only be more costly for DC. The District is not out of the woods yet, and they may never be.
  • The new Busch Stadium is still on schedule, with the season almost completely sold out.

One item not related to baseball - Did anyone see the Duke-UNC game Saturday night? ESPN utilized nearly all of their networks for this production, putting the main feed on ESPN, and alternate views on ESPN2 and ESPNU. I don't get ESPNU, which means I couldn't check out the "Cameron Crazies cam", but the "above the rim" cam on ESPN2 was addictive. You don't get the benefit of seeing what's happening immediately along the baseline, but if you like watching the rotation of a three pointer or the accuracy of a well executed outlet pass, "above the rim" was for you. The camera shook after dunks. The play seemed faster due to the more intimate angle, yet it was easier to see things develop, especially fast breaks. It was better than the SkyCam that ABC/ESPN has employed for some of its NBA broadcasts, as that view looked far too videogame-like. If this is the future of sports broadcasting through multicasting, sign me up. Oh yeah, it was an excellent game, too.


Zonis said...

Can someone explain to me the basics of the FSNBA TV Contract? Is it simply to host a certain number of games? Is it for exclusive Cable rights besides ESPN and FOX games? Or can Comcast buy the remainder of the games?

Georob said...

Living in Texas for seven years I know a little about San Antonio, so let me bring these up:

How is baseball doing with marketing to Hispanics? That would have to be a major part of any San Antonio team's efforts, and the best clue would be to look at what the Marlins have done(or haven't done) in Miami.

Between playing Expos games in San Juan and talk of expansion to Mexico(not to mention the WBC), MLB is certainly trying. But as long as baseball continues to court the corporate types to buy season tickets, courting a Hispanic market could be problematic.

Where does San Antonio fall in terms of income on those charts you had awhile back? They certainly have a decent corporate presence, although I question how much of that is headquarters vs. administrative.(after the S&L fiasco, land was cheap there and many companies relocated back room functions such as call centers to S.A.)

In short, I see a lot of similiarities to Sacramento, though larger. A growing city with a solid middle class base. The problem is: Is that enough?

Marine Layer said...

FSNBA's contract is exclusive. CSN is just going to have to wait.

If the Marlins move to SA, it only makes sense that there would be a major Hispanic outreach program. The market itself? We'll see how serious the Marlins really are because it's not without question marks.

Anonymous said...

Any update on wolff's self-imposed April deadline to announce plans or updates on the stadium situation?