Word came out yesterday that the Seattle Mariners have purchased ROOT sports. No matter what you think of the Mariners or ROOT, this was an absolutely brilliant move. Regional sports networks (RSN) are very big money, and M’s just acquired theirs.
If you wondering how this ties in to the Seahawks and the 12th Man, hold on, I’ll get to that later.
The Mariners had been waiting for their current TV contract with ROOT to expire in 2015 to launch their own RSN. By purchasing ROOT, the Mariners move the process up by nearly two years. With the purchase, the Mariners get access to the extra revenue immediately but also have to pay the up front costs of acquiring an already established company.
It’s a clear trade-off, but the timing makes sense when you factor in another variable, the Sonics. The NBA is likely to approve the sale of the Sacramento Kings to Chris Hansen and Steve Balmer this week, as well as approve the relocation of the Kings to Seattle. As soon as that is done, Hansen and the Sonics could have launched their own RSN, and begun reaping the financial benefits.
The area likely cannot support two regional sports networks.
This has been why the Mariners have been working to block the new Sonics arena. They didn’t really care about traffic, don’t let anyone fool you into thinking otherwise. They were simply trying to stall the return of the Sonics by a year. With the purchase of ROOT, none of that matters. I expect the M’s to remove all their opposition to the new arena in the next few weeks.
The Seahawks were never in the mix for this, because the NFL league office controls all of the TV rights. The nature of the NFL, and the fact that each team only plays 16 regular season games per year, lends itself to the types of league-wide TV contracts with major networks. This revenue model has been great for the NFL, but it wouldn’t work for MLB and the NBA.
There are simply too many games. Any network that paid to air all the games of one of the baseball leagues would have games on 7 to 8 hours a day, 7 days a week, for six months. Not only would the cost for that much programming be astronomical, it would also completely shut down everything else the network did for half the year. It just isn’t a viable for any of the TV networks.
For the Seahawks, this news matters very little. The new Sonics arena is going to be built, along with considerable additional parking in the area, which is much needed, but the Seahawks won’t get a cut of that. Not that that has anything to do with the M’s purchasing ROOT.
But this is very good for Seahawks fans! A strong, vibrant Mariners team that draws fans will be great for the SoDo neighborhood. (Yes, more revenue will translate to more wins. Don’t let MLB spin doctors convince you otherwise.) Local business and restaurants around the stadiums will do more business and become more profitable. This should lead to additional development and growth in the area.
Right now, getting into Pyramid before a game can be a two hour wait. Perhaps with additional profits they can expand to seat more 12s for a pre-game lunch. The same is true for a number of places around CenturyLink.
Development in SoDo can only mean good things for 12; more places to eat and drink, more shops to buy gear, and hopefully a safer area to park your car in. There is simply no downside for 12s who are who are headed to games.
Now if only we could figure out how to get a parking lot built where we could do some real tailgating. That would make this perfect.