Last week, I posted here regarding the Arizona Diamondbacks' new TV deal, which was reported to be for a billion dollars.
I'm back to tell you that a billion dollars is wrong. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic writes that the contract is going to pay the D'backs much more than that, quoting team president Derrick Hall:
There are indications the deal is for 20 years and guarantees the club north of $1.5 billion. Moreover, the deal is also believed to include an equity stake in the network. "This is game-changing for us," Hall said. "It puts us on par with a lot of our colleagues. Any increase in revenues, as we've said in the past, will go directly toward our (organization). It will help the franchise. It will help the product on the field."
According to the article, the D'backs get a "signing bonus" but the higher rights fees don't kick in until next year. However:
... the team spent money this offseason on free agents such as Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas ($68.5 million) and fellow Cuban pitcher Yoan Lopez ($16.27 million) in part because it knew the TV deal was coming.
Here's the part of the article that could relate directly to the Cubs:
Hall said the club considered launching its own regional sports network but ultimately decided it preferred to remain with Fox Sports Arizona.
I've noted before that the Cubs wouldn't want to get themselves in a situation like the Dodgers have, with a multi-billion dollar TV deal that sucks for their fans because only about 30 percent of homes in the Los Angeles area have access to the Dodgers TV network, largely because carriers other than Time Warner won't carry it. Hall elaborated:
While other markets, including Los Angeles and Houston, have seen prolonged disputes between networks and cable/satellite providers after hefty deals resulted in increased carriage fees, Hall said he doesn't expect any such problems in Arizona. "Fox has really good relationships with all the distribution channels and the chains," Hall said. "We have no concerns. I think it's business as usual. Our deal is not going to shake it up. We don't see that changing the way they do business at all."
It would seem, then, that the Cubs' big payday, which could come after the 2019 season when all the team's games will be up for bid as one package, might be best sold to Comcast Sportsnet, which has the same types of relationships with distributors in the Chicago area. The fact that CSN added a second full-time channel last October could be a precursor to them owning a fulltime Cubs channel. Note above that the D'backs are getting an ownership stake in Fox Sports Arizona as part of this deal; the Cubs already own 20 percent of CSN Chicago.
If I were Cubs management, that'd be the way I'd go instead of going it alone. As one Los Angeles-area TV executive said about the Dodgers mess: "The Dodgers already had a perfectly good TV channel [Fox Sports West]. Why did they need another one?"