“There is money coming in from all directions, and those rates are locked in for the teams. In most cases, the contract durations have gotten so long, both sides know there will be ebbs and flows in the ratings, but over the long haul, baseball is a valuable property for the [regional sports networks],” said Maury Brown, who founded and operates the website bizofbaseball.com and covers the sport’s business interests for Forbes magazine. “In this age of the DVR, live sports offers the last bastion of a captured audience. It’s the one program that people want to watch live and that can deliver an audience for advertisers.”
That’s why teams like the Los Angeles Angels are cashing in on more than $140 million per season from their own regional sports network TV contract, the Texas Rangers will begin collecting $80 million per season in 2015 and the Los Angeles Dodgers are awaiting final approval of a contract that will pay them an incredible $280 million a year.
Under current terms, teams divvy up about one-third of that revenue with their MLB partners, but the numbers remain staggering — even when ratings and attendance do not.
The Twins have lost half of their TV audience since 2010, and they sell 23 percent fewer tickets than they did in Target Field’s first year — they averaged only 758 more fans per home game last year than in the Metrodome’s final season. But there is little doubt that the Twins — and the sport as a whole — remain profitable.
“There’s always going to be haves and have-nots, but there are some tremendous revenue streams right now, from networks to the [regional sports networks] to the advanced media,” which operate the game’s websites and facilitate digital streaming of TV and radio broadcasts, Brown said. “The Twins, with their history, strike me as a team that’s very well-positioned to capitalize, with a good market and history. They’ll bounce back.”