Phils finalize long-term deal with Comcast SportsNet

ASSOCIATED PRESS Masahiro Tanaka could be on the Phillies radar in their search for starting pitching.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Masahiro Tanaka could be on the Phillies radar in their search for starting pitching.
Posted: January 03, 2014

THE PHILLIES and Comcast SportsNet have finalized a contract that will extend their television partnership well beyond 2015, when the previous deal was to expire, the Daily News has learned. Terms of the new contract are confidential.

A Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia spokesman confirmed the deal but declined to offer details.

"We're pleased to confirm that NBC-Universal and Comcast SportsNet have signed a new long-term deal with the Philadelphia Phillies that will expand Comcast SportsNet's role as the Phillies' primary TV partner," the spokesman said.

"Although the terms of the comprehensive deal are confidential, details surrounding the 2014 schedule of games will be provided in the coming months."

The Phillies' previous deal is believed to have paid them a rights fee in the neighborhood of $35 million per season. The team also was entitled to the advertising revenue from the broadcasts, so it is difficult to judge exactly how much money the club was pocketing each season.

There are a number of incarnations that a new deal could take.

The Los Angeles Angels will reportedly receive $147 million per year plus a 25 percent equity stake from Fox Sports West. The Texas Rangers will get $80 million per year and a 10 percent equity stake in Fox Sports Southwest while collecting a onetime $100 million fee in a 20-year deal.

The Houston Astros (Comcast SportsNet Houston) and San Diego Padres (Fox Sports San Diego), two small-market teams, each will pocket at least $60 million per year in fees while also enjoying equity stakes of at least 20 percent.

How much the new deal will impact the Phillies' ability to spend is unclear. The team has known for the last year that it was closing in on a new deal with Comcast SportsNet, yet the Phillies have trimmed their payroll during that time and have remained on the sidelines in bidding for the most expensive free agents this offseason.

They could, however, make a play for one of the top starting pitchers on the market, including Japanese star Masahiro Tanaka, Matt Garza, Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez.

Reports in October indicated that a new Phillies TV deal would happen in about a month.

According to the Neilson Co., Philadelphia is the fourth-largest TV market with more than 2.96 million TV homes. New York, Los Angeles and Chicago are the top three markets, but each of those cities has two major league teams.

The Phillies' ratings have dropped the past two seasons, by nearly 40 percent each year, but they still were ranked seventh in baseball in 2012. Last year the Phillies had their first losing season since 2002.

In 2011, CSN and Phillies had baseball's best local regional sports network ratings. According to sportsbusinessdaily.com, the 2011 season was the ninth straight season the Phillies had an increase in ratings, growing 176 percent in that time.


On Twitter: @ByDavidMurphy

Blog: ph.ly/HighCheese

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