Big news for the Rays today is potentially a good sign for the Cubs, who are currently shopping their TV broadcast rights (which become available after the 2019 season):
— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) February 26, 2018
The Rays’ current deal is reportedly at just $35 million annually, so this would be an enormous boost for them, and, more notably, a confirmation that the traditional TV rights deal market has not completely imploded at the worst possible time for the Cubs. The Cubs’ rights are currently split between NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-9, and ABC-7, and their annual take is something right there in that range of the new Rays deal. Given that the market for Cubs games is dramatically more ravenous than Rays games, I’m thinking the Rays getting $82 million annually is a very good sign for the Cubs.
It’s possible that the insane $150 to $250 million annual level that we saw the Phillies and Dodgers getting a few years ago is now a thing of the past, but we’ll see. An $82 million average annual deal for the Rays over the next 15 years – I’m very impressed by that figure for them.
You are reminded that, whenever it is that the Cubs lock in their next deal (which could take a number of possible forms), they could see annual revenues increasing by tens of millions of dollars immediately, the majority of which could filter right into baseball operations. The Cubs are already doing very well financially – well enough that they are right up at the luxury tax level on the payroll side, with flexibility to go beyond it in future years – but this next TV deal? Done right, it will ensure that the Cubs remain in that top echelon of revenue-earners, which can only help the long-term competitiveness of the organization.