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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Late Rush Keeps Three MLB Teams on TV, but Revenue Issues Linger

  • The Diamondbacks, Padres, and Rockies continue to navigate a post-RSN landscape.
  • Revenue concerns remain paramount among the affected teams.
Arizona Republic

The Diamondbacks, Padres, and Rockies are back on local TV, just in time for Thursday’s full start of the 2024 MLB season. But doing so required a last-minute scramble by the league and the trio of clubs, leaving plenty of long-term questions regarding the critical source of team revenue, and they could be joined by additional teams. 

The three clubs are on the front lines of historic disruption unfolding all across sports media, as they are each without a traditional regional sports network home. The Padres and Diamondbacks were dropped last year by the bankrupt Diamond Sports Group, while the closure last year of AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain in Denver left the Rockies in need of a new local broadcast plan. 

Following a series of distribution deals, some completed just this week, the teams’ 2024 local broadcast plan includes:

  • Arizona: Charter, Comcast, Cox, DirecTV, Fubo, and MLB.TV streaming
  • Colorado: Comcast, DirecTV, Spectrum, Fubo, and MLB.TV streaming
  • San Diego: AT&T U-verse, Cox, DirecTV, Spectrum, Fubo, and MLB.TV streaming

MLB, which is handling game production duties, has developed online channel finders for each of the three teams to help fans find the games.

Broadly speaking, the patchwork of distribution deals is similar to what the Padres and Diamondbacks offered last year. But, in the future, they could be joined by additional teams—as well as teams in other sports—particularly depending on what ultimately happens with DSG’s efforts to emerge from bankruptcy and which team rights that company retains. DSG is currently set through the current MLB, NHL, and NBA seasons, but questions remain after that. 

Revenue Worries

The financial terms of the newly struck MLB deals were not disclosed. But they are not believed to match the large-scale, lucrative, and multiyear RSN deals the teams previously enjoyed.

“If you’re a fan of the Diamondbacks, it was pretty seamless. What we end up doing this year, I think, will be the same for fans,” team owner Ken Kendrick said last month. “The challenges on our side of the table [are] the economics of what the revenue streams that [local] television will create for us, which is not an insignificant part of our [overall] revenue.”

Despite that concern, the Diamondbacks are heading into the 2024 season with a record payroll of nearly $170 million following last year’s unexpected trip to the World Series. On the other hand, the club has less than half that figure in future salary commitments in any season beyond the current one.

Meanwhile, the in-market MLB.TV streaming of the Diamondbacks, Padres, and Rockies also is serving as something of a test case for a far larger offering involving more teams that league commissioner Rob Manfred is seeking to develop and introduce as soon as next year.

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