Archive for Business

Mid-Season Local TV Ratings And Measuring Fan Engagement

Sports Business Journal published an article on Monday sounding the alarm about the Los Angeles Dodgers’ plummeting local TV ratings. Last season, the Dodgers averaged 226,000 households per game telecast. This season, the average is 40,000 households.

Of course the Dodgers’ ratings have plummeted. The team’s new regional sports network — SportsNetLA — isn’t available to fans who don’t subscribe to Time Warner Cable, because the network has been unable to reach distribution deals with the other cable and satellite companies like DirecTV and DISH. Only 30% of households in Los Angeles have Time Warner Cable and, thus, access to SportsNetLA. But the Dodgers lead the majors in attendance with 2,277,891 tickets sold through 49 home games, for an average of 46,487 per game.

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MLB Strongly Defends Local Broadcast Territories In Court

Major League Baseball asked a federal court this week to toss out claims by several fans that the league’s broadcast territories violate antitrust laws. The fans claim that MLB’s divvying up of the United States and Canada into exclusive broadcast markets means that regional sports networks need not compete with each other to telecast a team’s games in the local market. Plaintiffs also allege that MLB has a monopoly over broadcast packages of out-of-market games through Extra Innings and MLB.tv, and that MLB uses that monopoly for anti-competitive purposes by imposing blackouts on local games. My initial post explaining the lawsuit is here.

This week, MLB filed a motion for summary judgment with U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin, who is presiding over the case in Manhattan. Under federal procedure rules, a party can file a summary judgment motion to argue that under a set of undisputed facts, the other side’s claims (or defenses) are legally untenable, and therefore a trial on those claims (or defenses ) is unnecessary. You can read a copy of the motion here.  

Note that several parts of the motion are redacted, which means they refer to MLB’s confidential business information. From what I can discern, most of the redactions relate to MLB’s national TV contracts and what would happen to those contracts should the plaintiffs succeed in blowing up the exclusive local markets. The evidence in support of the motion — documents and pre-trial testimony — is even more off limits, with much of it filed under seal. That means only court and the attorneys have access to it. The public does not.

Still, even with the redactions and the filings under seal, MLB’s position is clear.

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Financial Cost Of Tommy John Surgery To Young Pitchers

Jose Fernandez. Patrick Corbin. Jarrod Parker. A.J. Griffin. Luke Hochevar. Matt Moore. Brandon Beachy. Cory Luebke. Bruce Rondon. Bobby Parnell. Kris Medlen. Ivan Nova. And now Martin Perez. Top and mid-tier pitchers in the early stages of their professional careers who have had Tommy John surgery this season, or in the case of Perez, are about to have it. Then there’s Matt Harvey, Jonny Venters, Dylan Bundy, Alex White and Eric O’Flaherty, who went under the Tommy John knife last season. For these pitchers, the surgery and rehabilitation will consume critical service time in their careers when they would otherwise be building up value for their arbitration-eligible seasons or free agency.

So while we lament the loss of these talents to our favorite team and to the game, the players face a troubling question: how will Tommy John surgery and the typical 12-18 month recovery time affect their short-term earning power?

Let’s start with the “lucky ones”: Matt Moore, Martin Perez, Cory Luebke and Dylan Bundy.

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Pitcher Contracts, Classified

Yesterday, I classified every contract for a position player currently on a 40-man roster. Today we turn our attention to the pitchers.

As of Sunday night, April 6th, there were 613 pitchers on a 40-man roster. Many pitchers with season-long injuries are on their team’s 60-day disabled list and have been moved off the 40-man roster. This includes Matt Harvey, Patrick Corbin, Derek Holland and Cory Luebke, to name a few. You won’t see those names below and I have not included them in the 612-pitcher total.

Before we get to the tables, here are the highlights:
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Position Player Contracts, Classified

In February, I estimated each team’s likely Opening Day payroll and broke down each payroll into discreet parts: the percentage of payroll that would be spent on the starting rotation, starting lineup, bullpen and bench. If you missed those posts, you can find them here (Part 1) and here (Part 2).

Today, we take a step back and look at how each team arrived at the position-player portion of their current 40-man rosters. What type of contract does each position player have? Is he a pre-arbitration player going year-to-year? Is he a pre-arbitration player with a contract? An arbitration-year player with an extension into free agency? A free agent with his old team or a new team? And so on.

This was a substantial undertaking, as there were 577 position players on a 40-man roster as of Sunday night, April 6th. Later this week, I’ll roll out a similar post on pitchers.

Below you will find 30 tables, one for each team, with a list of the position players on the 40-man roster and a description of each player’s current contract.

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