On The Angels And Mariners And TV And Money

All offseason long, temporary John Jaso distraction aside (remember when the Mariners got John Jaso?), it's seemed like all anybody really wanted to talk about was Prince Fielder. Arguments for why the Mariners should get him, arguments for why the Mariners shouldn't get him, ongoing coverage of the nebulous proceedings - Fielder has been the obvious hot topic, and a curiously obvious hot topic if you think about it, since Fielder is just a free agent who could sign with anyone. Mariners fans locked on him early and they've been firing missiles ever since.

So of course, after yesterday's news, the conversation didn't change much. The conversation didn't become about Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson - it became about what Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson mean for the Mariners' pursuit of Prince Fielder. I'm going to be kind of sad whenever Fielder signs because I don't know what there will be to talk about anymore. Unless Fielder signs with the Mariners. This is a stupid exaggeration. There will be plenty to talk about. Okay.

But this post isn't about Prince Fielder. The first two paragraphs were about Prince Fielder, to lure you in, because I'm apparently good at setting traps. But this post is about something else - something that just came to light in the aftermath of the Angels' big Thursday. Where did the Angels get the money to buy two of the market's premier talents? The Angels have had money for a while, but they haven't had money like this, or they hadn't spent that way.

We turn to Bill Shaikin and Kevin Baxter. The two combined to write the linked article, and included in that article is the following note:

The Angels have agreed to a new deal with Fox Sports worth at least $3 billion and expected to cover 20 years, two parties familiar with the deal said Thursday. The parties declined to be identified because the deal has yet to be officially announced.

The Angels and Fox Sports had an agreement worth $500 million over ten years. Arte Moreno apparently opted out and negotiated this new, much more lucrative agreement. The reported terms of the new agreement are in line with the initial reported terms of the Texas Rangers' new agreement, and of course those initial reported terms turned out to be wrong.

I don't know how TV contract money translates to payroll money. I don't think it's as simple as saying the Angels will have $3 billion more to invest in the team over the next 20 years. There are other factors. But a TV contract provides revenue, so a bigger TV contract provides more revenue. The average annual value of the Angels' TV contract apparently just tripled.

That's great news for the Angels, and their fans. It's worse news for the rest of the AL West. A quick round-up of the other division TV deals:

Texas Rangers
The Rangers were said to have agreed to a $3 billion, 20-year deal with Fox Sports Southwest. The actual agreement is worth more like $1.6 billion over 20 years. It kicks in after the 2014 season.

Seattle Mariners
According to Forbes, the Mariners have a $450 million, 10-year deal with FSN Northwest that just started last season. Details are basically impossible to confirm, but there you go.

Oakland Athletics
CSN California broadcasts most A's games as a favor.

If the Angels' figures are correct, their deal blows the Rangers' deal out of the water. It also blows the Mariners' deal out of the water, and I blew the Athletics' deal out of the water when I bought milk at the store. It isn't all about TV contracts, but it looks like the Angels will have this one advantage.

Interestingly, the Angels are not a ratings hit. According to Sports Business Journal, last year the Angels had the second-lowest local TV ratings of all 29 American teams. Things weren't any better the year before. The Mariners, for the sake of comparison, routinely do well. They're worse off now than they've been in the past, for obvious reasons, but from 1996-2003, the Mariners had the highest ratings in all of baseball. There's an audience, and most of the audience is still watching, even though bad, so much bad.

If there's a silver lining to this, it's that the Angels are seemingly committed through 2031 and the Rangers are seemingly committed through 2034, while the Mariners are committed through 2020. The Mariners will be able to renegotiate sooner, and depending on a few factors, their deal could be enormous. It could be the biggest. Inflation and all.

But, man, 2020 is a long ways off. If reports of the Angels' new deal are correct, then congratulations to them, and farts to us. Farts, nothing but farts.

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