With the 2009 MLB season now less just three weeks away, the approx. 9 million Sirius satellite radio subscribers looking forward to hearing MLB games after the satcaster merged with XM, may be unable to listen to games due to negotiations between the league and Sirius XM Satellite Radio.
According to a report in todayâ€™s edition of the SportsBusiness Journal, the issue centers around the 2004 exclusivity deal that MLB made with XM Satellite Radio before the two satcaster giants merged. The agreement is for 11-years with a total value of $650 million. With the merger between Sirius and XM, any bidding war for broadcast rights between the two have eroded. As reported by the SBJ:
Now, baseball executives want to maintain that platform exclusivity unless a new deal can be worked out. Since the merger of the two platforms passed regulatory hurdles last summer, Sirius XM executives have been pushing for the leagues, like the NFL, NBA, NASCAR and MLB, to give up that exclusivity and make their programming available to all 19 million subscribers under terms of existing deals.
The NFL and NBA originally signed exclusive deals with Sirius, but once the satellite radio companies merged, they allowed their game programming to be broadcast on both for the same rights fee they had been getting, sources said.
But MLB is holding out, unless it can work a better deal, which almost certainly means a higher rights fee.
As the report notes, MLB enjoys the most lucrative satellite radio agreement of any sports league pulling in on average $59 million annually. By comparison, the NFLâ€™s deal with Sirius averages to $31 million a year and NASCARâ€™s Sirius deal averages $21 million a year. The SBJ reports that NBAâ€™s rights fee is not known.
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
Don't forget to register and log in on The Biz of Baseball site to get updates via your in-box, and see information only logged in members can see.
Subscribe to The Biz of Baseball