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Cardinals, FSM Sign Lucrative Deal

Jason Barrett

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Capitalizing on their history of success and baseball’s skyrocketing value as real-time TV, the Cardinals have reached a deal with Fox Sports Midwest that will guarantee the team more than $1 billion and assert for years to come their televised presence in a broad, devoted region.

The team and its exclusive local broadcast partner are expected to announce a new, 15-year agreement Thursday morning, officials on both sides confirmed. The new deal will begin with the 2018 season, continue to feature as many as 150 televised regular-season games, and also provides the Cardinals with a minority stake in the network.

“This does give us a great deal of stability over the next 15 years and does so in a market that has been shifting,” Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said. “It has a nice increase in rights fees as well as the equity component and as a whole it will allow us to remain as competitive as we have been with our payroll, with our spending in the international markets, with our activity in amateur markets and other ways we have invested in development. We have certainty going forward.”

The agreement is new and not an extension of the current deal, which expires after the 2017 season. The value of the 2018-2032 rights package allows the Cardinals to catch up with a trend that has radically shaped baseball in recent years.

The total for the rights fee alone could surpass $1 billion, and that does not include the signing bonus or additional revenue the Cardinals will get from the equity stake.

Jack Donovan, general manager and senior vice president of Fox Sports Midwest, declined to discuss the specifics of the equity arrangement. He said the sides saw benefits to working on a deal now — two years before the Cardinals had to decide on their 2018 option. Discussions intensified over the past year, and the agreement was recently approved by Major League Baseball.

“It was in the best interests to get out in front of it before the current deal expired,” Donovan said. “This provides stability too for the network for years to come.”

The rights-fee gusher in baseball, both with local and national broadcast rights, has allowed teams in midsized markets to become as aggressive as larger-market teams when it comes to spending on players, whether it’s keeping talent or pursuing free agents.

The Cardinals telecasts on Fox Sports Midwest annually gather some of the highest ratings in baseball, and the games are the highest-rated prime time program in St. Louis during the season. They had the highest ratings of any team in 2014, and that was the 15th consecutive year that the Cardinals ranked in Major League Baseball’s top three for local TV ratings. They are No. 2 this year. Those ratings are robust in the St. Louis area, but Fox Sports Midwest also provides Cardinals games to a region that includes part or all of 10 states. Ratings, and the advertising dollars they can command, are only part of the equation when it comes to rising rights fees. Market size is a huge indicator. Teams such as Houston, the Rangers, the Dodgers, and, of course, the Yankees can attract profoundly higher rights fees simply because they play in areas with bigger populations.

A cable network generates income from subscriber fees, and the larger the population the more subscribers. Whether a household watches ESPN or not, if it has a cable bill, it’s paying for ESPN. The Cardinals are the 21st largest market according to Nielsen, behind the Diamondbacks (11th) and Indians (19th) but ahead of the Pirates (22nd) and Padres (28th).

What has made sports programming so valuable to networks is that it’s still appointment viewing. Unlike “Game of Thrones” or “Mad Men,” which can be viewed on demand, or streaming entertainment such as Netflix’s “House of Cards,” sports have remained DVR-proof.

“Sports on television is very powerful (because) people watch it live. They don’t time-shift sports,” Donovan said. “You watch movies and TV shows when you want now. Sports are the only thing where you don’t watch reruns, you don’t watch them two days later. Sports also has shorter commercial breaks. We have to be back live when the ump puts the ball in play. That makes commercials more valuable when they’re in that small pod. Sports is also wholesome content.

“Sports are emerging as the pre-eminent content on TV these days.”

At the end of the new deal, in late 2032, the Cardinals and Fox Sports Midwest will have had a relationship spanning 39 years.

Baseball’s big TV contracts

Team/mkt size Date of deal Network Length Value
Texas Rangers, #5 Aug 2010 Fox Sports SW 20 years $3 billion
LA Angels, #2 Dec 2011 Fox Sports West 20 years $3 billion
SD Padres, #28 April 2012 Fox Sports SD 20 years $1.2 billion
LA Dodgers, #2 Jan 2013 Time Warner Cable 25 years $8.35 billion
CLE Indians, #19 Dec 2012 Fox Sports 10 years $400 million
Ariz. Dbacks, #11 Feb 2015 Fox Sports Arizona 20 years $1.5 billion
PHI Phillies, #4 Jan 2014 Comcast SportsNet 25 years $2.5 billion
STL Cardinals, #21 July 2015 Fox Sports MW 15 years $1+ billion

To read the full article visit STLToday.com where it was originally published

Sports TV News

Pedro Martinez: ‘Never Imagined’ TV Career

“And the reason I’m here, it’s not because of the camera, it’s actually because it gives me an opportunity to remain linked to the game, remain linked to what’s going on, the different changes the game is offering right now, adjusting to different things.”

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As the Major League Baseball season comes to a close and preparations for the playoffs begin, MLB Network and TNT analyst Pedro Martinez joined The Press Box podcast to discuss his time as a television analyst.

When asked what he liked about working in television, Martinez didn’t hesitate with his answer.

“I think it’s a platform and the opportunity I have to bring to the audience what I know, what I think, what I understand and broadcasting gives me the opportunity to continue to have that communication with the people, the young athletes and fans. At the same time, I’m able to continue to learn and transmit some of the things that I would love to show everybody by playing but my body doesn’t allow me, but my mind does.

“This is a great way to bring the right information to the people, but I take advantage of the platform to communicate with my fanbase, the player’s fanbase, and the voice behind the players and the situations that come up, I can actually teach the audience some of the things that I understand from my point of view.”

A media career was never in the cards for Martinez. At least that’s what he thought during his playing career.

“I swear to god, it’s the only thing I never imagined. I never thought I would like being in front of a camera,” Martinez said. “And the reason I’m here, it’s not because of the camera, it’s actually because it gives me an opportunity to remain linked to the game, remain linked to what’s going on, the different changes the game is offering right now, adjusting to different things.

“You learn so much just by having access to information, having access to so many other different things. A lot of people would be surprised how much you can dig into and I think for everybody else, if they knew the kind of information we have access to, they’d be intrigued to come do what we do.”

He then said one of the things he would have never picked up on was how many pitchers tip their pitches, but due to all of the information, video, and relationships broadcasters have make that information readily available. He added his work in television has enabled more relationships with baseball players from his home country, the Dominican Republic.

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Sports TV News

Stephen A. Smith and Malika Andrews Get Heated Over Ime Udoka Coverage

“Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me, I listened to you,” Smith interjected, “you’re the one telling me to stop on my show. It ain’t happening.”

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Stephen A. Smith, Malika Andrews

On Friday’s First Take, Stephen A. Smith continued his stance regarding the public leaking of information surrounding Celtics’ Head Coach Ime Udoka relationship with a team staffer. He also went further by sharing his dismay that Udoka was seemingly the only person punished for the violation of company policy.

“Only he is in violation of the company policy?” Smith asked. “The woman who elected to have a consensual relationship with him is not in violation?” 

Before the end of the show, ESPN NBA Today host Malika Andrews called in the program and wanted to address Smith’s comments.

“Stephen A., with all do respect, this is not about pointing the finger. Stop,” Andrews said. “The fact that we are sitting here debating whether somebody else should have been suspended or not, we are not here, Stephen A., to further blame women.”

Smith would replay saying that his intention was not blame anyone outside of the Celtics coach.

“First of all, let me be very clear, I don’t appreciate where you’re going with that, I’m not blaming anybody but Ime Udoka,” Smith stated. “The fact of the matter is, he deserves to be fired if they were going to fire him. If you’re not going to fire him, then don’t fire him. My issue is all of this being publicized.”

Andrews tried to jump back in for further commentary but Smith stopped that and noted he didn’t appreciate being interrupted on “my show”.

“Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me, I listened to you,” Smith interjected, “you’re the one telling me to stop on my show. It ain’t happening.”

Andrews did thank Smith for clarifying his stance at the end of the segment. ESPN has removed access to the video from its YouTube channel by making it private.

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Sports TV News

Rich Eisen on Tom Brady Joining FOX: ‘I Gotta See It to Believe It’

“I think what Peyton Manning has done with his post-playing career is more of a blueprint that I would think Brady would follow.”

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Is 2023 the year we see Tom Brady in the broadcast booth for FOX? Rich Eisen isn’t so sure.

“I still gotta see it to believe it, I’ll be honest with you, man. I know it’s a great chunk of change and it’s a lot of money. I don’t know,” the NFL Network icon said on the most recent edition of the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast.

Tom Brady has taken his foot off the gas in 2022 in a more public way than fans are used to. He voluntarily missed eleven days of training camp and has announced that he will not be available to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesdays during the season.

Eisen says if Brady is looking for a less demanding career, broadcasting isn’t the best option.

“It is a lot of work. And I’m not saying Brady’s not up for it, but if he’s been grinding for 23, 24 years, it’s still a grind in its own way.”

FOX signed Brady to a ten-year deal reportedly worth $375 million to start after he retires. He will be in the network’s top broadcast booth and also serve as an ambassador for the network’s coverage of the NFL.

Eisen says there is a much better model for Brady’s media career in his old rival Peyton Manning.

“I think what Peyton Manning has done with his post-playing career is more of a blueprint that I would think Brady would follow,” Eisen said. “Peyton Manning could be making that much money in the booth himself, right? Instead, he’s got his own production company and he’s doing the games, but not all of them, only 10 of them. And he’s doing them from his basement and he’s got the rights to the games!”

He added that Tom Brady “write his own ticket like that” if he chose to do something similar to what Manning has done with Omaha Productions.

Brady has not had much to say about his deal with FOX since the news became public. In June, he told Dan Patrick that he knows his first season in the booth will come with a lot of growing pains.

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