Baseball Is Broken (off the field/labor relations etc.)


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From the article:

”When I talk about a more national product, sort of the thought there is that a more national product produces more centrally shared revenue … which, in turn, we hope, would reduce payroll disparities,” Manfred said. “At various times, we have talked and proposed, including in the last round, about direct payroll regulation, in addition to that, having a minimum payroll. It’s like poker: you got to ante at that number if you want to play. We remain open to those sorts of solutions. Obviously, we’re a long way from the next round of bargaining, but there are ways to get at it. There are ways to get at it.”
Which I’m sure to the owners don’t include opening up their books, but it looks like the league has exhausted the one time single windfalls (like the MLB Advanced Media sale) and now maybe the RSN gravy train is at an end… The article states that the Bally’s bankruptcy isn’t really the issue, but I suspect when the small market teams start seeing that cash flow limited they will look to reduce labor costs and increase subsidies from large market teams to maintain their profit margins.

Petagine in a Bottle

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Jan 13, 2021
The problem is that in the RSN model, every cable subscribing HH (which used to be everyone, but is now closer to half) paid to subsidize the cost for those that watched. If you move to a model where only those who are interested pay, you have to increase the cost like 5-10x to keep revenues static (see the direct to consumer NESN model). And you still have the FOX/ESPN/Turner exclusive / national games that you have to keep intact. I’m not sure how this works long term.
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Max Power

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Jul 20, 2005
Boston, MA
I get the idea of having more national revenue from the game, but baseball really doesn't lend itself to that as a sport. NFL games are rare, so people will watch out of town ones when their team isn't playing. The NBA is closer to baseball in schedule, but the mechanics of the sport emphasize their stars so the appeal of an out of town game is greater. If you watch a Warriors game, you're going to see Steph Curry do something great. Baseball is the only game where people say "you have to watch him every day to appreciate him" about Hall of Famers. Nobody is going to watch a week's worth of Angels games to see if Trout does something good. Starting pitchers are the exception, but the game has steadily been de-emphasizing them, too.

Even if there is a great service that replaces the RSNs, the majority of revenue from that service is going to come from the fans of the big market teams. I don't see what incentive they have to share even more of that with the smaller market ones and decrease their franchise values. I guess that's why Manfred just made a committee of a bunch of owners and told them to come up with something themselves.