Two years ago, Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp looked sharp in high-end fitted Lacoste Polo shirts, Armani sweat pants and Ray-Bans for a splashy GQ fashion spread.
This spring, he put on his serious face. Sporting a black power suit, Kemp is on the cover of Forbes magazine under the headline: “The New Moneyball.”
The reason: Because the Dodgers are about to land one of the most lucrative regional TV sports rights deals in baseball history, the team’s clean-up hitter has rightfully cleaned up with contract recently extended to eight years and $160 million.
Yes, even with a team that was in bankruptcy court. And the Dodgers think they got a bargain.
Once upon a time, the simple act of building a new stadium gave Major League Baseball teams an influx of new money to improve their roster budgets and raise the hopes of the local fan base. The Miami Marlins see that happening this year, and the Oakland Athletics are trying to do the same.
But more and more these days, it’s all about staying in the ballpark for a new gynormous regional TV rights deal.
“Stadiums are part of the equation, but media rights have a greater portion of the space right now — this is the golden age of regional sports networks and of the media,” said Chris Bevilacqua, the head of his own New York-based company that invests and advises on media rights deals.
As the former chairman and CEO of Creative Artist Agency’s Sports Media Ventures, Bevilacqua was involved in constructing the Fox TV deals for the Texas Rangers and San Diego Padres, the Pac-12 Conference’s Fox/ESPN package, and, nine years ago, founded College Sports TV, now known as CBS Sports Network.
“There’s about $250 billion of infrastructure with this enormous store that has been built and that people shop in every day, and they need quality products on the shelves, and quality content.
“If you’re a sports rights holder today, every day is like Christmas. You have gigantic media companies making massive investments in all the different ways to consume the media, and there’s baseball, with 150 live local events every year – twice as many as the NBA or NHL have – sitting in a very enviable position.”