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It’s Time To Cash In On Minor League Baseball

“Arguably, the investment in the infrastructure of MiLB is why Endeavor and Silver Lake are looking to buy forty MiLB franchises.”

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Minor League Baseball was traditionally a precarious investment, but times are changing.  Player Development Contracts (PDC) are the traditional agreements between Major (MLB) and Minor (MiLB) League clubs.  These agreements are generally for three years at a time.  

Significant changes have occurred in MiLB over the past few years.  First, the number of MiLB teams contracted from 160 to 120.  Second, name, image, and likeness (NIL) opportunities will likely drive more high school graduates into college versus the Minor Leagues.  Third, Major League Baseball has continued to use the Atlantic League as a way to test new MLB rules before deciding on implementation (e.g., seven inning double-header games, pitch clocks, and a runner starting at second base for the batting team in extra innings).  Fourth, in a monumental move, Major League Baseball has decided to pay for Minor League baseball player housing beginning in 2022.  

Tyler Zombro, Durham Bulls, struck by ball | wcnc.com
Courtesy: WCNC

Arguably, the investment in the infrastructure of MiLB is why Endeavor and Silver Lake are looking to buy forty MiLB franchises.  It could also be that Minor League franchises do become MLB franchises from time-to-time.  The development of one Minor League team into the MLB would more than pay for an investment in forty.  

Will MiLB games and franchises ever match what Disney just sold for NHL game advertisements?  Not in the immediate future.  However, the Premier League model in international soccer and the development of players and brands through a franchise is important and a long-term goal of MLB and its franchises.  The relegation of teams and promotion of franchises?  Very unlikely as American owners in the Premier League were pushing for a Super League and would likely enjoy a model where teams do not get relegated so their investments do not fall in value.  

In an interesting twist, MLB teams could learn something and vice-versa from the other regarding marketing tactics and campaigns.  Minor League teams are often known for their very funny advertisements that are maybe seen as unfit for the highest professional ranks.  However, in the words of Bryce Harper, maybe MLB should make baseball fun again.  

The MiLBY’s are Minor League baseball’s version of the ESPY’s.  The show will highlight the most fun and most accomplished players and brands.  It will indeed bring more exposure.

MiLB could also look into international expansion with minor league affiliates throughout the world with a Minor League baseball version of the World Series to be played between them.  Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, Venezuela, Brazil, Japan, Korea, and many other countries come to mind.  China and Cuba would also be ideal, but for the political concerns and turmoil.  

If players are already drafted on the international stage, would it not make more sense to develop the players from an earlier age through a minor league system? The earlier exposure will help with learning American culture and the English language, which are often more difficult to learn as one gets older.  It would also hopefully improve conditions internationally for athletes.  

Minor League teams are now being offered affiliated partnerships.  The centralization of MLB and its affiliates means MLB team owners will have more say and control over their franchises, brands, and development.  It also means there are an additional forty formerly affiliated clubs that are likely to fold or search for independent leagues to join, which again provides more opportunities for baseball players.  

If anything, the increase in the valuation of professional franchises across sports has gotten team owners more interested in their brands and values now and down the road.  Imagine selling an MLB club along with its trademarks, venue, and minor league affiliates, their trademarks, and venues.  Valuation in the billions could be multiple billions with the affiliates.  

Amarillo Sod Poodles vs. Midland Rockhounds.
Courtesy: John Moore

There are already several Minor League teams in cities or regions where they are the only show for miles around where attendance and branding are already very successful.  The strengthened partnership between MLB and MiLB will only increase that value.  American baseball is wise to do this as college increasingly becomes a somewhat easier road to travel through NIL and the college vs. minor league environment.  Often college teams bring the national media exposure and huge athletic department budgets that minor league teams formerly did not have access to through traditional PDCs.  The new age of Minor League baseball is upon us.  

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BSM’s Black Friday SALE on BSM Summit Tickets is Underway!

Jason Barrett

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Each year I’m asked if there are ways to save money on tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit. I always answer yes but not everyone takes advantage of it. For those interested in doing so, here’s your shot.

For TODAY ONLY, individual tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit are reduced by $50.00. Two ticket and four ticket packages are also lowered at $50 per ticket. To secure your seat at a discounted price, just log on to BSMSummit.com. This sale ends tonight at 11:59pm ET.

If you’re flying to Los Angeles for the event, be sure to reserve your hotel room. Our hotel partner this year is the USC Hotel. It’s walking distance of our venue. Full details on hotel rooms can also be found via the conference website.

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BSM Podcast

Media Noise: What Does The Return of Bob Iger Mean to ESPN?

Demetri Ravanos

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Demetri Ravanos has questions about Disney going back to the future with Bob Iger. This entire episode of Media Noise is all about what the change at the top of the Walt Disney Company indicates about the future of ESPN.

ITunes: https://buff.ly/3PjJWpO

Spotify: https://buff.ly/3AVwa90

iHeart: https://buff.ly/3cbINCp

Google: https://buff.ly/3PbgHWx

Amazon: https://buff.ly/3cbIOpX

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Mina Kimes, Bruce Gilbert, Mitch Rosen, and Stacey Kauffman Join the 2023 BSM Summit

“By the time we get to March, we should have somewhere between 40-60 participants involved in the conference.”

Jason Barrett

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The 2023 BSM Summit is returning to Los Angeles on March 21-22, 2023, live from the Founders Club at the Galen Center at the campus of the University of Southern California. Information on tickets and hotel rooms can be found at BSMSummit.com.

We’ve previously announced sixteen participants for our upcoming show, and I’m excited today to confirm the additions of four more more smart, successful professionals to be part of the event. Before I do that, I’d like to thank The Volume for signing on as our Badge sponsor, the Motor Racing Network for securing the gift bag sponsorship, and Bonneville International for coming on board as a Session sponsor. We do have some opportunities available but things are moving fast this year, so if you’re interested in being involved, email Stephanie Eads at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

Now let’s talk about a few of the speaker additions for the show.

First, I am thrilled to welcome ESPN’s Mina Kimes to the Summit for her first appearance. Mina and I had the pleasure recently of connecting on a podcast (go listen to it) and I’ve been a fan of her work for years. Her intellect, wit, football acumen, and likeability have served her well on television, podcasts, and in print. She’s excelled as an analyst on NFL Live and Rams preseason football games, as a former host of the ESPN Daily podcast, and her appearances on Around The Horn and previously on Highly Questionable and the Dan Le Batard Show were always entertaining. I’m looking forward to having Mina join FS1’s Joy Taylor and ESPN LA 710 PD Amanda Brown for an insightful conversation about the industry.

Next is another newcomer. I’m looking forward to having Audacy San Francisco and Sacramento Regional Vice President Stacey Kauffman in the building for our 2023 show. In addition to overseeing a number of music brands, Stacey also oversees a dominant news/talk outlet, and two sports radio brands. Among them are my former station 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, and ESPN 1320 in Sacramento. I’m looking forward to having her participate in our GM panel with Good Karma’s Sam Pines, iHeart’s Don Martin, and led by Bonneville’s Executive Vice President Scott Sutherland.

From there, it’s time to welcome back two of the sharpest sports radio minds in the business. Bruce Gilbert is the SVP of Sports for Westwood One and Cumulus Media. He’s seen and done it all on the local and national level and anytime he’s in the room to share his programming knowledge with attendees, everyone leaves the room smarter. I’m anticipating another great conversation on the state of sports radio, which FOX Sports Radio VP of programming Scott Shapiro will be a part of.

Another student of the game and one of the top programmers in the format today is 670 The Score in Chicago PD, Mitch Rosen. The former Mark Chernoff Award recipient and recently appointed VP of the BetQL Network juggles managing a top 3 market sports brand while being charged with moving an emerging sports betting network forward. Count on Mr. Rosen to offer his insights and opinions during another of our branding and programming discussions.

By the time we get to March, we should have somewhere between 40-60 participants involved in the conference. My focus now is on finalizing our business and digital sessions, research, tech and sports betting panels, securing our locations and sponsorships for the After Party and Kickoff Party, plus working out the details for a few high-profile executive appearances and a couple of surprises.

For those looking to attend and save a few dollars on tickets, we’ll be holding a special Black Friday Sale this Friday November 25th. Just log on to BSMSummit.com that day to save $50 on individual tickets. In addition, thanks to the generosity of voice talent extraordinaire Steve Kamer, we’ll be giving away 10 tickets leading up to the conference. Stay tuned for details on the giveaway in the months ahead.

Still to come is an announcement about our special ticket rate for college students looking to attend the show and learn. We also do an annual contest for college kids to attend the event for free which I’m hoping to have ready in the next few weeks. It’s also likely we’ll give away a few tickets to industry professionals leading up to Christmas, so keep an eye out.

If you work in the sports media industry and value making connections, celebrating those who create an impact, and learning about the business from folks who have experienced success, failure, and everything in between, the Summit is worth your time. I’m excited to have Mina, Bruce, Mitch and Stacey join us for the show, and look forward to spending a few days with the industry’s best and brightest this March! Hope to see you there.

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