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Diamondbacks Sign Billion-Dollar TV Deal

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What does this mean for the Cubs when their turn comes up?

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The Arizona Diamondbacks, considered by many a small-market team, are going to jump into the big time with their new TV contract with Fox Sports Arizona:

Sources would not provide details of the agreement, such as specific financial terms or even the length of the contract, but there are indications the deal is in line with expectations based on previous comments from club officials.

For months, team officials have said the club was discussing 15- and 20-year contracts and that a new deal would at least triple the annual value of the team's previous agreement, which was set to run through this season.

The previous deal is reportedly worth $31 million annually, which means even a 15-year deal would be valued at close to $1.4 billion if the club takes in three times as much per year.

If those figures are correct, the D'backs would be raking in something on the order of $90 million a year, perhaps a bit more, if the "at least triple" part of that quote turns out to be true. Arizona's payroll last year was about $112 million, according to Cot's, and their estimated payroll for 2015 is about $89 million, according to

Which means, going forward, they could cover most of their player-payroll obligations before they sell a single ticket.

I'm sure the Cubs have dollar signs in their eyes after reading this. After all, the Cubs have a much bigger fanbase than the Diamondbacks, a much richer history, and play in a much larger television market.

But the question remains: What will the baseball television landscape look like five years from now when the Cubs will have all their games up for bids? The D'backs deal won't have the issues that the Dodgers are having since Fox Sports Arizona is carried pretty much everywhere in the Phoenix area. However, with this large payment, will the network have to ask for larger carriage fees and risk being dropped by some carriers? That's the dilemma.

We also don't know if baseball's entire means of transmitting games to fans will change by 2020. As you all know, cord-cutting is going on at a high rate of speed and there might not be these kind of RSN dollars available five years from now. Games could wind up getting streamed. There could be big money in that down the road, but we just don't know.

Neither do we know yet whether the 70 Cubs over-the-air games will be available in markets outside Chicago and within the blackout areas of Illinois, Indiana and Iowa. Stay tuned, as they say.