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Baseball Fans Should Rejoice as MLB, FOX Partially Lift Blackouts PDF Print E-mail
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Maury Brown Article Archive
Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 03 October 2012 00:00

Blackouts

This image may, one day, disappear on
Biz of Baseball. MLB and FOX have partially
listed the national blackout as part of their
new agreement that begins in 2014

I didn’t get to the story yesterday. Some may have thought I was drowning in the news of the day, sipping champagne and smoking cigars. I was basking in the news, but the truth was a technical issue here at the Biz of Baseball had the site down most of the day for posting. Still, it was, as Terence Mann said in Field of Dreams, as if I’d been dipped in magic waters.

You see, MLB announced the finalization of three major national broadcast agreements yesterday. While the 8-year ESPN deal was announced at the end of August, FOX, TBS, and MLB Network were still wrapping things up. On Sept. 20, word got out what the deals would be worth—a staggering $1.5 billion annually when adding in ESPN—which meant that when the deals all kicked in in 2014, each club in MLB would see about $26.28 million each year over the $23.72 million they were each seeing as part of the last agreements.

It’s not often that I’m pleasantly wrong about things, but with the money so staggering, I assumed that the national blackout policy would remain. In speaking to a senior league official about a week ago, his reply was, “The deals aren’t all done yet. It’s premature to assume.” After more than  a decade reporting on the league, I read this simply as, “The blackouts are remaining as they are, we just haven’t finalized the deals.”

So, when word arrived today via Twitter that the deals with FOX, TBS, and MLB Network had been finalized, I was really just prepared to report on what I thought was more of the same. After all, baseball has been mired in the blackout policy for so long, I had simply become Pavlov’s dog: you said the words “FOX” and “national broadcast deal” and my response was to write “arcane blackout policy” for the ten-billionth time.

Yes, as Joe Sheehan noted on Twitter, the blackout policy has been something that I have screamed from the tallest mountain about. Each year, as I watched MLB Extra Innings on television or MLB.TV on my computer or iPhone, there I’d be on Saturday gnashing my teeth and shaking my fists at the sky as “Due to blackouts, this game is unavailable” came (yet again) on the screen.

But, today was different. Today, something miraculous happened. No, it is not a complete lifting, and it will not happen next season, but it is a bit of a national holiday for baseball fans. Within the press release from FOX, there was this:

Beginning in 2014, subscribers of MLB Extra Innings and MLB.TV have the opportunity to watch Saturday MLB on FOX games subject to certain geographic black outs that protect games assigned to local FOX affiliates.

I must have read this ten times. What FOX and MLB did was throw this writer a curve. What will happen is not too dissimilar to the local blackouts (which, yes, MLB… you’re still going to have to figure out one day). FOX selects three regional games each Saturday. If, let’s say, the Rangers were playing the Angels in Anaheim, then those within that regional broadcast area would be blacked out on MLB Extra Innings and MLB.TV for that game and forced to watch on FOX. But, if the Yankees were playing in New York and you were within that West Coast television territory for the Angels game, that wouldn’t be blacked out thus allowing you to truly get a complete out-off-market package. Given the money in play with the new deal (FOX jumps from $257.1 million annually to approx. $500 million a year), the fact that FOX relinquished any exclusivity is a major miracle. In other words, be happy and take it, baseball fans.

Sheehan mentioned on Twitter that I had “been out front on blackout issues for years” but I was no more persistent than Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports who has been banging on the “get out from the blackout policy” for years. The reality is, while we spilled gallons of ink on the topic, the likely reason that the blackout issue was lifted was that, by MLB’s own admission, the blackout issue is the #1 customer service complaint that they’ve seen year in and year out.

So, remember, you still have to wait till the FOX deal kicks in in 2014, but at least, after all the years of hearing Commissioner Selig say that he was concerned about it, something is (finally) going to happen. Congrats, baseball fans. Take a bow.

READ ALL THE DETAILS ON THE NEW NATIONAL BROADCAST AGREEMENTS INCLUDING THE FINANCIAL BREAKDOWN


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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Top 20 Top-Selling MLB Jerseys, Once Again, Sees Derek Jeter At #1 PDF Print E-mail
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MLB News
Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 01 October 2012 12:44
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Derek Jeter (yet again) is MLB's top-selling baseball jersey

Today, MLB and the MLBPA released information on what players have the most popular jersey sales and with it, unsurprisingly, many of the players within are headed for the postseason or are leading the league is statistical categories. Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees, Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers and Ichiro Suzuki of the Yankees top the list, released jointly today by Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association, with rookie sensations Bryce Harper and Mike Trout rounding out the top five.  Ichiro’s placement certainly comes from excitement that surrounded his trade from the Mariners to the Bronx Bombers this season. Jeter was the best selling jersey last season, as well (see the 2011 listing).

Six players, including Ichiro, Harper, Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Yu Darvish and Chipper Jones, who is retiring and certain to be Cooperstown-bound, made the top ten after not appearing in the top 20 on the 2011 calendar-year list released in March of this year.  Seven additional players – Matt Kemp, Joey Votto, Prince Fielder, Jose Bautista, Yadier Molina, Miguel Cabrera and Brett Lawrie – who did not make last year’s list cracked the top 20 this time around.  McCutchen is likely to win the batting title and is good news for the Pirates who have languished in the standings for over a decade. Players representing 12 different MLB Clubs make up the list of top 20 most popular jerseys, including Postseason contenders that haven’t been represented on the list in recent years such as the Washington Nationals, Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds.  The top 20 include nine infielders, seven outfielders, two pitchers and two catchers. Of the top 20, 18 were All-Stars in 2012.

What's interesting to note is who is not in the list. After ranking #3 in jersey sales last year, Albert Pujols of the Los Angeles Angels drops out of the top 20.

MLB Most Popular Jerseys 2012

Based on sales of Majestic jerseys since the 2012 All-Star break

  1. Derek Jeter, New York Yankees
  2. Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers
  3. Ichiro Suzuki, New York Yankees
  4. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
  5. Mike Trout, LA Angels of Anaheim
  6. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
  7. Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers
  8. Chipper Jones, Atlanta Braves
  9. Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
  10. Robinson Cano, New York Yankees
  11. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers
  12. David Freese, St. Louis Cardinals
  13. oey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
  14. Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers
  15. Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers
  16. Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays
  17. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
  18. Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
  19. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
  20. Brett Lawrie, Toronto Blue Jays

Source: MLB/MLBPA


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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Melky Cabrera Becomes Ineligible for Batting Champion after Changes to Rule PDF Print E-mail
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MLB News
Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 21 September 2012 15:34

Melky CabreraThe question had been looming since the day of his PED suspension: would Melky Cabrera of the Giants be allowed to win the batting title? Cabrera, who leads the league in batting average with .346 has been stuck on the number ever since. Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates is currently in second with a .339 average.

Today, MLB and the MLBPA addressed the matter by making changes to the rules that will prevent a player with a PED suspension from winning the individual batting, slugging or on-base percentage champion, by making a change to the last sentence of Official Baseball Rule 10.22(a). That now shall not be applicable for the 2012 season for any player who failed to obtain 502 plate appearances if such player served a drug suspension for violating the Joint Drug Program. 

In an interesting twist, the agreement was reached at the request of Cabrera, who was suspended for 50 games without pay on August 15, 2012 after testing positive for testosterone, a performance-enhancing substance in violation of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association jointly announced today that for purposes of determining the individual batting, slugging or on-base percentage champion, the last sentence of Official Baseball Rule 10.22(a) shall not be applicable for the 2012 season for any player who failed to obtain 502 plate appearances if such player served a drug suspension for violating the Joint Drug Program. This agreement was reached at the request of San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera, who was suspended for 50 games without pay on August 15, 2012 after testing positive for testosterone, a performance-enhancing substance in violation of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

 “After giving this matter the consideration it deserves, I have decided that Major League Baseball will comply with Mr. Cabrera’s request,” said Commissioner Selig. “I respect his gesture as a sign of his regret and his desire to move forward, and I believe that, under these circumstances, the outcome is appropriate, particularly for Mr. Cabrera’s peers who are contending for the batting crown.”

“Melky Cabrera, through a written request to me, asked the for the Union’s assistance in removing him from consideration for the 2012 National League batting title,” said MLBPA Executive Director Michael Weiner. “We complied with Melky’s wish and brought the matter to the Commissioner's Office, which agreed to suspend the rule. We commend Melky's decision under these circumstances."

“I have no wish to win an award that would be tainted” said Cabrera in a statement. “I believe it would be far better for someone more deserving to win. I asked the Players Association and the league to take the necessary steps to remove my name from consideration for the National League batting title.

"I am grateful that the Players Association and MLB were able to honor my request by suspending the rule for this season. I know that changing the rules mid-season can present problems, and I thank the Players Association and MLB for finding a way to get this done.”

Seth Levinson of ACES, Inc., Cabrera’s agent, added: “I am not surprised by Melky’s request. Melky is a truly humble person, and he is embarrassed by his mistake and sincerely regrets letting down his teammates, the Giants organization, and the fans. Since his suspension, Melky has been adamant that he did not want the batting title award, and that he wanted to solely focus on working hard to return to baseball so he could be in a position to win that award with honor.”

At the time Cabrera was suspended, he had 501 plate appearances and a .346 batting average, which led the National League. 502 plate appearances qualify a player for a batting championship.

The rule now reads:
 
Rule 10.22(a): “The individual batting, slugging or on-base percentage champion shall be the player with the highest batting average, slugging percentage or on-base percentage, as the case may be, provided the player is credited with as many or more total appearances at the plate in league championship games as the number of games scheduled for each club in his club’s league that season, multiplied by 3.1 in the case of a Major League player. Total appearances at the plate shall include official times at bat, plus bases on balls, times hit by pitcher, sacrifice hits, sacrifice flies and times awarded first base because of interference or obstruction. Notwithstanding the foregoing requirement of minimum appearances at the plate, any player with fewer than the required number of plate appearances whose average would be the highest, if he were charged with the required number of plate appearances shall be awarded the batting, slugging or on-base percentage championship, as the case may be.
 
Note: Bold text indicates the portion of the rule that will not apply to a player who has been suspended for violating the Joint Drug Program during the 2012 season.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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MLB on Cusp of TV Extensions with FOX, TBS That Will Net $800M Annually PDF Print E-mail
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Television
Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 20 September 2012 17:51

MLBWhen MLB inked the largest television rights extension in their history with ESPN in late August (see ESPN Reaches Largest Broadcast Deal Ever for MLB), the question was what would happen with the games that FOX and TBS were covering as the other broadcast partners with the league. Would extensions with the two transpire? Would the games all move to one of the two, or would NBC Sports Network jump into the fray? With ESPN ostensibly doubling their rights fee, it set the table.

Now, it appears that both FOX and TBS will renew their deals with the league, and follow suit with ESPN and double the rights fees. Both extensions would begin in 2014 and would run through 2021, just as the ESPN extension does. FOX will reportedly pay approx. $500 million annually while TBS will jump to $300 million per year.

All told, that means MLB will now see $1.5 billion annually in national television rights fees, up 111 percent from the $711.7 million they currently see.

How will this affect the individual clubs?

With MLB’s national media rights revenues part of the league’s central funds that are distributed evenly to all 30 clubs, each one will see $50 million annually, or an additional $26.28 million each year over the $23.72 million they  now see. That could give each club the ability to be competitive for a star-caliber free agent, and then some.

The following breaks down how the broadcast deals will look once completed

Broadcast Partner

Prior (Annually)

New (Annually)

Increase (Annually)

Total Contract

ESPN

$306 million

$700 million

$394 million

$5.6 billion

FOX

$257.1 million

$500 million

$242.9 million

$4 billion

TBS

$148.6 million

$300 million

$151.4 million

$2.4 billion

TOTAL

$711.7 million

$1.5 billion

$788.3 million

$12 billion


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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2013 MLB Regular Season Schedule Winners and Losers PDF Print E-mail
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David Simmons Article Archive
Written by David E Simmons   
Monday, 17 September 2012 14:33

Inside MLB attendance

Last week, MLB released their 2013 schedule and with it, Katy Feeney and the staff at MLB is responsible for piecing the schedule together that has to be one of the toughest in sports. The schedule has to balance local holidays, team travels, political conventions, concerts, national television contracts, competition from other sports leagues, and the team themselves in putting together the schedule. Some teams are happier than others with their tentative 2013 schedule. Others will have a tougher time selling more tickets with their schedules during the off-season. It’s important to note that the 8 worst road draws in baseball this season were the Royals, Mariners, Rangers, A’s, Indians, Twins, Blue Jays, and Rays. This could change for any of these teams with the signing of Josh Hamilton. Plus, a deep playoff run for the Rangers or A’s could help them on the road next year as well. The best road teams are all large markets including: Yankees, NY Mets, Philly, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Braves, and welcome to the big-time Nats. The Braves TBS roots still sell on the road and it appears all baseball fans couldn’t get enough of the Bryce Harper show on the road. Missing but not forgotten are the Red Sox who still claim to be a top 5 brand and given the number of transient former Boston students will continue to sell on the road. If you’ll notice none of the best road draws come from the AL Central or AL West. This puts teams at a definitive box office disadvantage from the NL Central who play the AL West and teams from the NL East who face the AL Central. One advantage for all teams this year is that rivalry interleague games will be played during the week which should sellout and their increases are greater than the decreases on a weekend series. That change alone should net teams ~35,000 tickets sold or about a million tickets sold league-wide. One trend to keep an eye on is the use of concerts made popular in Tampa, Washington, and the LA Angels to drive attendance. Given the multitude of projected slow weekends across the league many teams will adopt a Friday Fireworks and Saturday Concert model. Concession discounts during the week and promotions will continue in abundance as well. Without further ado here are the 2012 schedule release winners and losers.

2013 Schedule Winners

  • Los Angeles Dodgers: Host NY Yankees (2 games) and Boston Red Sox (3 games)
  • Toronto Blue Jays: April weekend with Yankees, Plus weekday hosts to Dodgers, Giants, Red Sox, & Yankees
  • New York Mets: Host 84th all-star game in July but host Royals, Tigers, White Sox in interleague and only 2 Yankee games
  • New York Yankees: Host SF and Red Sox in September weekends – 2 Red Sox series plus Dodgers, Mets during week
  • Chicago Cubs: 9 April games, host Rangers in interleague, weekends vs. PHI/LAD/STLx2/ATL/NYM
  • LA Angels: Red Sox, Yankees weekend - Dodgers/Cubs/Cards midweek
  • Colorado Rockies: Host NY Yankees (3 games) and Boston Red Sox (2 games)
  • Detroit Tigers: 21 home games before Memorial Day weekend, ATL/PHI/BOS weekend series
  • Oakland Athletics: Red Sox & Cards on weekend plus Giants, Yankees, Cubs midweek
  • Minnesota Twins: Host Mets and Red Sox on weekend, plus Yankees and Phillies during week – then 2014 ASG
  • Cleveland Indians: Mets & Nats on weekend, plus 10 early weekday games vs. Phillies/Red Sox/Yankees

2013 Schedule Losers

  • Boston Red Sox: 17 April home games, Yankees first visit is July 19th, interleague host of Padres, DBacks
  • Chicago White Sox: 15 April games, face Sox, Cubs, and Yankees during the week
  • Arizona Diamondbacks: Host Rangers, Rays, Orioles, and Blue Jays in interleague
  • Baltimore Orioles: Play Dodgers in April, 1 Yankee weekend, plus interleague with Rockies & Pads
  • All NL Central not named the Cubs: Host AL West in Interleague play
  • All NL East not named the Mets: Host AL Central in Interleague play

Off the 9 interleague series to never happen it appears that MLB tried aggressively to get them all in as there will be 7 first time series in 2013:

  • Dodgers @ Yankees
  • White Sox @ Mets
  • Braves @ Royals
  • Rangers @ Cardinals
  • Cubs @ Athletics
  • Cardinals @ Angels
  • Rays @ Dodgers

Looking ahead to 2014 the following interleague matchups have never been played:

  • Twins @ Braves
  • Padres @ Blue Jays

David SimmonsDavid Simmons is a graduate of the University of Central Florida who worked in the front office of the Los Angeles Dodgers over 4 seasons and has a decade of ticketing experience.. He serves as CFO for Players For The Planet and currently resides in Baltimore. You can follow David on Twitter @davidesimmons

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Minor League Baseball Sees Attendance Surpass 41 Million for 8th Straight Year PDF Print E-mail
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Latest MiLB News
Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 13 September 2012 08:52

Minor League BaseballIn a sign that not just attendance in the Major Leagues are seeing a bouncing in attendance, Minor League Baseball has said that its clubs attracted 41,279,382 regular season fans this year as of Wednesday. This season’s total represents an increase over 2011 and marks the eighth year in a row that the industry has topped 41 million fans.

“On behalf of our 15 leagues and 176 clubs, I would like to say thank you to the more than 41 million fans that, once again, supported our great game this season,” Minor League Baseball President Pat O’Conner said. “I know our clubs will work hard this off-season to find ways to continue to provide affordable entertainment for their communities and maintain the attendance boom that Minor League Baseball has seen over the last decade, thanks to our enthusiastic and loyal fans, in 2013.”

The Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs topped all clubs based in the domestic leagues in total attendance for the second consecutive year (622,421) and in average crowd for the third straight season (9,153). For the eighth year in a row, the Frisco RoughRiders paced all Double-A clubs in total (488,224) and average attendance (7,076).

The Class A Dayton Dragons, who extended their consecutive sellout streak record for a professional sports team to 913 games this season, averaged 8,532 fans a game in attracting 588,689. They have paced their classification every year in both categories since they began play in 2000. Likewise, the Brooklyn Cyclones, who drew 249,009 fans for an average of 6,553, have led all Short Season-A™ and Rookie® clubs in attendance and average per game since their first year in 2001.

The Monterrey Sultans of the Mexican League led all Minor League Baseball clubs in attendance (645,302) and average crowd (11,321) this season.

As to why the increase, weather has been better this year than last, thus lowering the number of rainouts, the economy has somewhat brightened in many areas of the country, and Minor League ball continues to be an affordable entertainment option.

2012 Attendance by League:

International

6,504,586

Florida State

1,215,020

Pacific Coast

6,796,157

Midwest

4,084,343

Mexican

3,814,348

South Atlantic

3,056,097

Eastern

3,791,241

New York-Penn

1,701,001

Southern

2,152,852

Northwest

896,781

Texas

2,834,864

Appalachian

278,785

California

1,582,174

Pioneer

695,052

Carolina

1,876,081

Total

41,279,382

Source: Minor League Baseball


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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The 2013 MLB Regular Season Master Schedule PDF Print E-mail
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MLB News
Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 12 September 2012 16:44

Major League Baseball today announced its master 2013 regular season schedule, which will begin with ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” on March 31st.  Details on the Opening Night match-up are forthcoming.  Twelve Opening Day games are currently set for Monday, April 1st.  The final day of the 2013 regular season is scheduled for Sunday, September 29th.

Among the changes to the scheduling format for 2013:

  • Next year’s schedule will call for Clubs to play 19 games against divisional opponents, for 76 division games total.  The 19 games will be played in six series – three at home and three on the road.
  • Each Club will play either six or seven games vs. non-divisional League opponents.  These six or seven games will be played in two series – one at home and one on the road.  Overall, 66 games will be played against non-divisional League opponents.
  • Each Club will play 20 Interleague games throughout the regular season.  These 20 Interleague games will be played in eight series – four at home and four on the road.  Interleague series featuring prime rivals will include back-to-back two-game series spanning both cities/venues.  The week featuring Interleague Play’s prime rivals will begin on Monday, May 27th, with the host Clubs in the same match-ups shifting on Wednesday, May 29th.

The Cincinnati Reds will host the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on April 1st in the season’s first edition of Interleague Play, which will be played throughout the regular season.   Other Opening Day games on Monday include the Los Angeles Dodgers hosting the San Francisco Giants; the New York Mets hosting the San Diego Padres; the Washington Nationals hosting the Miami Marlins; the Chicago White Sox hosting the Kansas City Royals; the Minnesota Twins hosting the Detroit Tigers; the Arizona Diamondbacks hosting the St. Louis Cardinals; the Oakland Athletics hosting the Seattle Mariners; the Atlanta Braves hosting the Philadelphia Phillies; the Milwaukee Brewers hosting the Colorado Rockies; the Pittsburgh Pirates hosting the Chicago Cub; and the New York Yankees hosting the Boston Red Sox.

Seven games are scheduled for Tuesday, April 2nd, including the inaugural American League contest for the Houston Astros, who will host the Texas Rangers at Minute Maid Park.  The Astros will be members of the A.L. West next season, when each of MLB’s six divisions will have five Clubs for the first time.  The first full slate of 15 games will be scheduled for Wednesday, April 3rd.

The Dodgers will host the Padres on Monday, April 15th, which is Jackie Robinson Day throughout Major League Baseball.  The first day of the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft will be Thursday, June 6th.  The 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field, the home of the Mets, will be held on Tuesday, July 16th.  The final day of the regular season will feature 11 series that are divisional match-ups.

Select READ MORE to see the complete American League and National League schedules for 2013

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Game Changer: Sports Teams Go "Green" PDF Print E-mail
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David Simmons Article Archive
Written by David E. Simmons   
Monday, 10 September 2012 14:30

MLB Green

This past week, in conjunction with the 2nd annual Green Sports Summit in Seattle, the NRDC released “Game Changer” to highlight pro sports sustainability and environment efforts. The report, Game Changer: How the Sports Industry is Saving the Environment, presents 20 case studies of teams, venues and league events that have led the green sports movement by adopting sustainable solutions to their energy, water, and waste needs.

 Dr. Allen Hershkowitz, director of NRDC’s green sports project had the following to say in regard to the initiatives taken by teams:  “A cultural shift in environmental awareness is needed in order for us to address the serious ecological problems we face, and the sports industry, through its own innovative actions, has chosen to lead the way. Pro sports are showing that smart energy, water and recycling practices make sense.  They save money and prevent waste.  That’s as mainstream and non-partisan as it comes.”  

Based on the timeline provided in the report, The Philadelphia Eagles can be seen as pioneers in the movement. Last year ,Biz of Baseball interviewed Tim Sexton about the partnership with the Eagles that helped enable the first dominoes to begin to fall for the green sports movement. Additionally, we spoke with Jack Cassel (Players For The Planet Co-Founder) and Mark Andrew (Greenmark Sports Founder) last Earth Day. Now, of the 126 professional North American sports teams, 38 teams use renewable energy and 68 have energy efficiency programs.  There are now 15 LEED certified North American Stadiums, 18 onsite solar arrays, and all teams use some sort of recyling or composting program.

The strides can be seen across all major sports leagues in the report, especially MLB. In the report MLB Commissioner Bud Selig writes “In my two decades as Commissioner, I have seen our sport take important strides forward on this essential issue” . Additionally, Selig was honored with the Environmental Leadership Award at the Green Sports Alliance Summit Gala at Safeco Field in Seattle on September 6.

Venues, teams, and events highlighted in the report include:

  • Atlanta’s Philips Arena, home of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks
  • Cleveland’s Progressive Field, home to MLB’s Cleveland Indians
  • Houston’s Toyota Center, home of the NBA’s Houston Rockets
  • Los Angeles’ STAPLES Center, home of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers, the NHL’s Los Angeles KINGS and the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks
  • Miami’s American Airlines Arena,  home of the NBA’s Miami Heat
  • Minneapolis’ Target Field, home of MLB’s Minnesota  Twins
  • Montreal’s Bell Centre, home of the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens
  • Orlando’s Amway Center, home of the NBA’s Orlando Magic
  • Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field, home of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles
  • Portland’s Rose Garden Arena, home of the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers
  • San Francisco’s AT&T Park,  home of MLB’s San Francisco Giants
  • Seattle’s CenturyLink Field, home of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and MLS’s Seattle Sounders
  • Seattle’s Safeco Field, home of MLB’s Seattle Mariners
  • St. Louis’ Busch Stadium, home of MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals
  • Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, home of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs and the NBA’s Toronto Raptors
  • The MLB All-Star Game
  • The U.S. Open, United States Tennis Association (USTA)
  • The NHL All-Star Game, The Winter Classic and the NHL draft
  • The NBA All-Star Game and Green Week
  • The NCAA Final Four

Martin Tull serves as executive director of the Green Sports Alliance. The GSA is a non-profit organization with a mission to help sports teams, leagues, and venues enhance the environmental performance. The alliance represents over 100 sports team in 13 sports leagues. Tull, who authored the afterword the report, believes that  “With the release of this report the world will learn about this good work. Hopefully this report will encourage and guide other teams and venues to follow suit." 

The full report just can be found here 


David SimmonsDavid Simmons is a graduate of the University of Central Florida who worked in the front office of the Los Angeles Dodgers over 4 seasons and has a decade of ticketing experience.. He serves as CFO for Players For The Planet and currently resides in Baltimore. You can follow David on Twitter @davidesimmons

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MLB Could Top $1.5 Billion a Year in National TV Revenues PDF Print E-mail
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Maury Brown Article Archive
Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 05 September 2012 15:03

MLBWhen I ran a story on Baseball Prospectus in July saying that MLB’s national television contracts could be renewed ahead of their end of 2013 expiration, I assumed we’d be looking the off-season, or possibly early into the 2013 MLB season before it would happen. But, last week, ESPN became the first to jump into the fray by announcing that they had reached a new 8-year, $5.6 billion deal. All told, it meant that MLB would see $700 million annually as opposed to the $306 million they had prior.

It is the largest deal ever for Major League Baseball and set the bar going forward with the league’s other two broadcast partners, FOX and TBS.

So, when will those extension be announced? Soon, according to John Ourand of the SportsBusiness Journal. According to the SBJ, FOX co-presidents Randy Freer and Eric Shanks and executive vice president Larry Jones have been meeting extensively with MLB to retain MLB programming. There has been considerable speculation that with NBC Sports Network now in the mix, they would be vying to fill programming with a major sports league, and with MLB up for renewal, it seems a perfect fit.

According to the SBJ report, the FOX execs are looking to “switch Speed from a motorsports channel to an all-sports channel” but to do that they need sports programming to fill the hole, and MLB fits that bill. As further reported:

So Fox’s bid would be a mix. It would place the World Series and most of the league championship games on its broadcast network. The earlier playoff rounds and most regular-season games, including some Saturday “Game of the Week” telecasts, would be on the cable channel.

Sources close to the discussions said Fox’s initial offer last week was not high enough. The company was following ESPN, which set the market when it agreed to double the price of its package. That means that Fox would have to approach an average of $800 million a year for two available packages. Fox now pays $257.1 million for its package, while Turner pays $148.6 million for its package.

The story gets more interesting in that MLB is also talking with TBS and that the deal would be similar in that the plans would role the current FOX and TBS offerings into one package. The aforementioned NBC Sports is still in the mix, and would do look to do the same: roll the FOX and TBS games into one package.

On the edges is MLB Network which is continuing to branch its live programming out, and how postseason play will be covered. As part of the new deal, ESPN gets back into broadcasting postseason play with one of the Wild Card playoff games. Reportedly, ESPN asked for more playoff games, but MLB declined at the moment.

What is known is this…

While I projected as much as a 175% increase in television revenues in the new deals, that is likely too high. If the SBJ story holds water and a combined deal to cover the FOX and TBS programming hits $800 million annually, MLB will see total national television revenues of $1.5 billion annually, up 111% from the $711.7 million they receive now.

How will this affect the individual clubs?

With MLB’s national media rights revenues part of the league’s central funds that are distributed evenly to all 30 clubs, each one will could see $50 million annually, up from $23.72 million, now. That could give each club the ability to be competitive for a star-caliber free agent, and then some.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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ESPN Reaches Largest Broadcast Deal Ever for MLB PDF Print E-mail
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Television
Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 28 August 2012 15:14

MLB

Major League Baseball and ESPN today announced the largest broadcast deal in league history with a new eight-year, $5.6 billion agreement ($700 million annually) that will carry their longstanding relationship into its fourth decade.  The agreement sets the standard going forward for Major League Baseball broadcasting as ESPN’s annual rights fee will increase by 100% over its current deals ($306 million annually), marking a new all-time record for an MLB broadcasting deal. The deal grants ESPN, which first began televising Major League Baseball games in 1990, a significant increase in studio and game content, including the right to broadcast up to 90 regular season MLB games per year across the ESPN networks beginning in 2014 and running through the 2021 season.  ESPN will continue to telecast three Major League Baseball windows each week including Monday nights, Wednesday nights, and the nationally exclusive “Sunday Night Baseball” franchise. 

Not accounting for any expenses in the deal, each of the 30 clubs in the league would share equally in the revenue which comes to $23.33 million annually, up from $10.2 million in the deal prior.

In addition, ESPN will once again televise Postseason baseball, beginning in 2014 with one of the two Wild Card Games presented by Budweiser.  ESPN will alternate airing the American League and National League Wild Card Games each year.  Also starting in 2014, ESPN will have the rights to all potential regular season tiebreaker games.  This new agreement covers television and radio rights to MLB programming both in the U.S. and internationally, and will include expanded hours of Baseball Tonight and other ancillary baseball programming across ESPN platforms.  In addition, ESPN MLB game telecasts and other baseball programming will be available via ESPN3.com and the Watch ESPN app.  ESPN has also made a commitment to showcase each of the 30 MLB Clubs at least once per season in a live game telecast.

Commissioner Selig was more than happy with the deal reached.

 “On behalf of Major League Baseball, I am thrilled that we will continue our long-standing relationship with ESPN far into the future.  The level of ESPN’s commitment to baseball – both financially and through its expanded content – is a testament to the strength of our game and its unprecedented popularity among our fans,” Selig said.  “Through its various networks and other media platforms, ESPN offers baseball fans more avenues to experience the game than ever before, and we’re thankful for their continued support.”

ESPN President John Skipper said: “We’re thrilled to renew our long-standing agreement with Major League Baseball into the next decade. It’s a great property. The enormous scope of what we acquired will provide fans with more live baseball and more ways to access baseball content than ever before.”

          Additional details of the agreement include:

  • ESPN will continue to have exclusive television rights to certain MLB All-Star Week events including the State Farm Home Run Derby and Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game.
  • A nationally exclusive Opening Night national telecast, as well as full coverage of Opening Day and national holiday games (Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day).
  • Up to 10 Spring Training games each season.
  • In each year of the agreement, ESPN will air six one-hour specials created by Major League Baseball Productions, the Emmy Award-winning television and video production division of Major League Baseball.

A larger question was how the digital aspect of the deal impacts MLB Advanced Media who oversees MLB.com. A cash-cow for the league, questions of competition come with the new agreement.

Addressing the media, Selig said he has been amazed at the growth of MLBAM and that “you won’t recognize it” in ten to twelve years, a reference to its growth.

Bob Bowman, the CEO of MLBAM said, “We couldn’t ask for a better partner and competitor than ESPN,” adding that he did not see it adversely impacting the digital rights arm of baseball.

And then there’s the issue of the exclusivity agreements that impact the league’s blackout policy via the MLB Extra Innings television package or MLB.TV, the now decade-old digital streaming of games. With the increase to 90 games a season, more Sunday games will be blacked out nationally. And while the blackout issue on Sunday evenings for ESPN has been difficult, it is nationally televised Saturday day games on FOX that has created the biggest blackout issue. To that, ESPN is really the first of three national broadcast deals that will be addressed shortly as the deals with FOX and TBS still have yet to be addressed. It could be as late asthe end of 2013 when the contracts expire before those addressed.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

Follow Maury Brown on Twitter Twitter

Follow The Biz of Baseball on TwitterTwitter

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