TV ratings for Kansas City Royals baseball skyrocketed this year, thanks to the first taste of good baseball fans have gotten in two and a half decades. Thanks to a playoff chase that lasted long into the fall, KC had the year’s highest ratings spike among all MLB teams. The Royals also earned their highest ratings ever for a single game with a Tuesday game in August against the Miami Marlins. All this is a great sign for the Royals and a starving fan base, but unfortunately, the Royals can’t profit from highlighting their success on TV. Thanks to one of the crappiest contracts in the league, KC will be earning just as much from putting this team on TV as they did from fielding some of the crappiest baseball teams of all time.
The Royals franchise currently earns $20 million dollars a year through a deal with Fox Sports Kansas City that is set in stone through 2019. This is the 4th lowest revenue per year of any team in the league. The massive contract signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers with Time Warner Cable gives LA more than twelve times more profit than KC. The Dodgers’ $250 million per year revenue leads the league, but they’re just one of 10 teams earning at least $50 million a year through their TV deals. The contract numbers also prove that this isn’t an issue of big market/small market; only 3 of the 8 teams with lower Opening Day payrolls than the Royals earn less through TV revenue, and only one of those teams, the Oakland Athletics, recorded more wins this season.
It’s not all bad news for Kansas City television in the future, however. The Royals have one great and several good announcers on the TV broadcast staff (the one great being Ryan Lefebvre), and the current playoff results prove that it doesn’t take a great TV contract to be successful in the MLB; the current worst contract on record belongs to the St. Louis Cardinals, who actually receive $6 million less in TV revenue than Kansas City. Fans should also keep in mind that the mega-deals earned by teams like the Dodgers are docked 34% of their revenue, which is redistributed among the other teams in the league.
Hell, if the Royals are as successful next year as many project them to be, Lefebvre may just drag Hall of Famer Denny Matthews out of the radio booth for some live TV broadcasts. Denny making fun of the lovably clown-like Rex Hudler would make for some good television, without a doubt.