It took a little longer than expected, but the San Diego Padres, who field one of the most expensive and star-studded rosters in the industry, became the first team to fit into its long term plan to fit all. broadcast rights under a national umbrella.
Diamond Sports Group, Sinclair’s subsidiary navigating bankruptcy proceedings, let a grace period come and go on Tuesday without paying the Padres, allowing the team to be released from its contract.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Diamond said the “Padres’ contract economics were not aligned with market realities.” So, starting today and ad infinitum, MLB will resume local broadcasts from the Padres. It’s a major transition, but fans shouldn’t miss a game. they will be available through the league’s MLB.tv app, initially for free, and through various cable companies on a different channel. MLB had been waiting for something like this for months.
“I think it’s all unfortunate,” MLB chief revenue officer Noah Garden told ESPN. “From day one, we had hopes that our partners would meet their contractual obligations. And through a variety of, quite frankly, mismanagement and ongoing mismanagement, their business has fallen on hard times.
“We’ve been forced to take a step back and find a way to continue to serve fans – and we’re going to do that, because it’s the lifeblood of our industry and so important to our fans, especially locally. We’re going to invest in the product; we’re going to make it better than ever; we’re going to distribute it more widely than it’s ever been; and we’re going to support our content. That’s our goal.”
The mechanics of this approach are very complex, but many details were ironed out from the start, given Diamond’s publicly precarious financial situation. Here are the answers to some of the most relevant questions.
wait it’s gonna be free watch the Padres now? How will this work?
Wednesday through Sunday, Padres games will be free to all fans on MLB.com and Padres.com – two road games against the Miami Marlins and three home games against the Chicago Cubs. All that will be required is an MLB.com login. Starting next Monday, a subscription cost will go into effect for Padres streams in the local market.
How much will that cost?
Market fans can pay $19.99 per month or $74.99 for the rest of the season to watch San Diego games on MLB.tv. But most local fans with cable subscriptions won’t have to.
OK how are you This work?
MLB has agreements with multiple cable companies — DirecTV, AT&T U-verse, Cox and Spectrum — to stream Padres games through their services. These will be available on various channels (694-3 for DirecTV, 781 for AT&T U-verse, 4 for Cox, 305 for Spectrum). Fan guides will list the channel simply as “San Diego Padres”.
MLB has essentially eliminated territorial rights through these agreements, meaning that for local fans who purchase the Padres MLB.tv package, streaming games from San Diego will no longer be subject to blackouts. Yes, that’s right – no power outages.
Who will work at the team’s broadcast booth? What changes can we expect in the broadcast, if any?
In the Padres’ situation, not much. San Diego’s in-game and on-air talent is employed by the team (dynamics are different with other clubs), meaning fans will continue to watch play-by-play announcer Don Orsillo , analyst Mark Grant and field reporter Bob Scanlan. However, the lineup for the team’s pre-match and post-match shows is still being worked out, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. Microphone flags will have the MLB logo rather than Bally Sports red. Garden said fans will immediately notice more camera angles and “significantly better” image quality.
What does this mean for the Padres, in terms of revenue and payroll?
San Diego started this season with a nearly $250 million payroll that was the third-highest in the sport, the largest in franchise history — by far — and more than 3½ times larger than ‘six years ago. Now, suddenly, his financial future is in doubt, at least when it comes to his broadcast rights earnings. Only one of three payments for an RSN contract that would net the team around $50 million a year was ultimately made by Diamond.
That said, the Padres will still generate broadcast revenue through the deals MLB has made with the various cable companies for this possibility. These deals, the details of which have not been made public, are likely nowhere near what San Diego was generating through Diamond (particularly because broadcast rights were not included). But the league believes teams will eventually benefit from broadcast rights and subscription revenue operating through a national model. (Big market teams like the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, who own their RSNs, disagree.)
Well, today could be a big day. A hearing will be held in Houston, during which a bankruptcy judge will preside over Diamond’s claims that it should pay lesser duty fees to the Minnesota Twins, Texas Rangers, Arizona Diamondbacks and Cleveland Guardians to account for market forces that have greatly diminished the traditional cable model in recent years.
These teams are basically on the bubble. And the judge’s decision, which is expected no later than Thursday night, will play a big role in Diamond determining which contracts he keeps or gives up as part of the bankruptcy process, not just with those four teams, but potentially with some. of the nine others who remain under his ownership. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is among those who will testify.
Other teams that fall will follow a similar path to the Padres, with MLB offering their games flawlessly on MLB.tv and various cable channels.