Open bidding for the Royals TV rights

With the focus on the World Series starting Tuesday, there’s little in the way of news for the teams other than the Dodgers and the Red Sox. Still, we have a job to do and darn it, we’re going to accomplish at least something today.

— How about an update on the Royals and their TV rights? As noted previously in this space, the exclusive negotiation rights for Fox Sports and the Royals was set to expire sometime this month. Apparently, that deadline passed last week.

From Sam Mellinger, the Royals aren’t all that concerned:

“We view it as an exciting time,” said Kevin Uhlich, the Royals’ senior vice president for baseball operations. “We don’t view it negatively at all. It’s part of the process, and we’re up for it.”

Indeed, that’s the right mindset as the team enters the most important negotiations this franchise will face over the next decade or so. TV rights deals are massively important to the fiscal well-being of all teams, especially so for the smaller markets, who are looking to grab every dollar they can to keep up with the evolving major league economy. For the Royals to cement a deal with Fox Sports just because they are the current partners would be shortsighted. Television and the way we consume media has changed massively since the Royals last inked a broadcast pact. The Royals owe it to themselves to look at all options.

Besides, just because the window of exclusivity has closed, doesn’t mean the Royals still won’t come to an agreement with Fox Sports. Fox has the right to match any offer the Royals may be willing to sign with another outlet. And for a local network like Fox Sports Midwest, the Royals are ratings gold. Both sides are reportedly happy with the current relationship. If the dollars are right, why not continue with the one who knows you best?

But in this case, options means other ways of serving the broadcast. It could be their own in-house network, although those of us around for RSTN (Royals Sports Television Network) remember that as a low budget mess. Why would the Royals go that direction again? More likely, they could explore streaming platforms such as YouTube, Amazon or even something like Netflix or Hulu. It’s difficult to say how that would work, but you could be looking at a 21st century superstation like TBS was for the Braves or WGN was for the Cubs. Admittedly, with the fragmentation of the audience and the availability of any broadcast on any night, a team gaining a national footprint with the help of a streaming app seems a little farfetched, but stranger things have happened.

Or, they could look to combine outlets to expand their reach. Which in turn, could expand their windfall.

At any rate, the Royals TV rights are officially up for bid. This is massively important to the franchise going forward. As they say in the broadcast business, stay tuned.

— The World Series is set with the Red Sox hosting the Dodgers this week for the first two games before the series moves across the country to LA. Sadly, the Milwaukee Brewers, otherwise known as Royals North, lost out in what was a rather anticlimactic seventh game of the NLCS. It’s a shame because as we ensconse ourselves back in the baseball hinterlands of second-division finishes, it was fun to have a rooting interest in the Brewers. In addition to the players such as Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas and others, Milwaukee resembled those championship Royals teams in the style of play and the fashion of victories. Top-notch defense, a stellar bullpen and an opportunistic offense carried them to within the precipice of the World Series. Not a bad showing at all.

The Brewers were the hottest team in baseball when the postseason opened, won home field advantage, and came up one game short for the NL pennant. It’s just another reminder that winning leagues and championships is damn difficult.

With most of their core players returning for another year, the Brewers will continue to be a force. And Moustakas once again enters free agency, hoping for that payday that never arrived last winter to finally materialize. He performed well enough between Kansas City and Milwaukee, but his power production dropped from 38 home runs and a .249 ISO to 28 dingers and a .208 ISO. Not a great time for a downturn in those numbers, but to spin it in a positive manner it was his third consecutive season with an ISO over .200.

Like most free agents entering their age 30 season, caveat emptor if you’re looking for any kind of a long term deal. After last year, it should be interesting to see how the market treats him this time around.

— Finally, the Royals seem to forget that media can include us basement dwellers.

Give me a wood bat, a 70 mph straight fastball, put Glory Days on the PA and I could maybe generate some loft. And I’d blame my lack of visiting Dong Town on the weather.

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