and what the next generation for rights deals will look like moving forward in our local marketplace.
And, really, on the football side it’s even harder to show businesses a return on their investment for playing a 30-second radio ad on a Sunday when anyone sensible realizes most people actually watch the games not listen to them. And selling FM baseball on summer nights for a team that hasn’t played a meaningful game since 1997?
Good luck selling that, boys and girls!
The one benefit is that every credible researcher in the world will tell you live sports is still the best television product in this country because people actually watch the games live and don’t skip through the commercials on their DVRs. But in the case of the Orioles, was anyone really watching those August and September games when Buck Showalter actually had the team looking like a 3rd place team in the AL East.
But as for radio, rights deals in the old days were mutually beneficial. A tired old AM radio station like WBAL with 50,000 watts of reach would get evening programming that did whopping Arbitron numbers in the 80’s and 90’s for six months of summer and hot stove baseball talk (unopposed until WNST-AM 1570 came along in 1998) the rest of the year. There was NO internet. It was the “only game in town.”
Football sales is based far more on the shoulder programming and that’s a difficult sell when the primary product happens on Sunday with such a thud – a force of nature that brings 70% of the city into one place at one time.
The Ravens are in their final year of a brutally taxing financial arrangement with Hearst (98 Rock and WBAL). CBS — the catalyst for these flip flips since the days of Infinity – are now dismayed with the Orioles again but will continue to mute their hosts daily so that they can have a cozy partnership with Angelos and MASN, a network no one is watching.
At the heart of it all is a simple business proposition: the Ravens run the city and have to run themselves ragged trying to be profitable when almost two-thirds of their gross revenue goes to the players and the Orioles wake up on Jan. 1 with a $50 million surplus in guaranteed profit and not an iota of encouragement or business rationale to actually spend any of it.
Steve Bisciotti once said to me that owning a baseball team is undesirable