Phillies agree to lucrative deal with Comcast SportsNet

GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is unlikely to change his spending habits for next season as a result of the contract.
GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is unlikely to change his spending habits for next season as a result of the contract. (YONG KIM / Staff Photographer)
Posted: January 04, 2014

The Phillies became the latest professional sports franchise to reap the benefits of the booming television market when they agreed Thursday to a long-term extension with Comcast SportsNet that will be worth billions.

Comcast SportsNet announced the deal in a statement sent to local news organizations. Terms were not released, although a source said the agreement is for at least 20 years. The two sides' current deal was set to expire after the 2015 season.

"We're pleased to confirm that NBCUniversal 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 statement 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 contract is unlikely to have an immediate effect on general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.'s spending habits. Amaro said his payroll will be consistent with last year's, and the Phillies are nearing their self-imposed $170 million limit.

Comcast SportsNet, which is now owned by NBCUniversal, will televise the majority of the 162-game schedule. A limited number of games will no longer appear on PHL17. Instead, Comcast SportsNet will select some weekend dates to televise on its sister station, NBC10.

The contract is not expected to eclipse the $7 billion reaped by the Los Angeles Dodgers in their 25-year TV rights deal signed last winter, but it will represent a significant windfall. The Phillies garnered some of the best local TV ratings among Major League Baseball clubs in recent seasons.

It is unknown how much money Comcast SportsNet paid the Phillies under the previous deal; various estimates have stated the annual value was $35 million. The Phillies' deal was unique in that they received a cut of advertising revenue from the telecasts because the team was responsible, in part, for selling the ads. It is unclear whether that partnership will continue.

Phillies president David Montgomery told The Inquirer in September that negotiations with Comcast SportsNet had begun. The Phillies were never a threat to pursue another carrier or create a bidding war.

"It's an opportunity," Montgomery said in September. "The only thing I will caution is, compared to others, we've had a nice deal. You see some situations where clubs have had a substandard deal. We've enjoyed a very solid relationship with Comcast ever since we were a part of forming Comcast SportsNet in 1996."

That lucrative relationship will continue for two decades.


mgelb@phillynews.com

@magelb www.inquirer.com/phillieszone

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