Forbes has its annual sports franchise valuations out and the Royals have had a major appreciation in value, jumping from an estimated $490 million value last year to $700 million this year, a 43 percent increase. Was it the Royals successful post-season run that added value to the franchise? Not necessarily. Baseball as a whole enjoyed a massive jump in valuation from Forbes, with the average Major League franchise now worth $1.2 billion, a 48 percent increase over last year. What is driving those escalations? Television.
Television money is driving the sport’s top line growth. In 2014, broadcasting and cable money accounted for $2.88 billion, or 37% of baseball’s $7.86 billion of revenue. Just five years earlier, television proceeds were $1.73 billion, or 29% of the sport’s $5.91 billion of revenue. During the past five years, mega cable deals for the Dodgers, Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have kicked in, and last season MLB began new national broadcasting deals with ESPN, Fox and TBS that will pay a total of $12.4 billion over eight years–more than double the previous contracts.
Now you see why the Dodgers are signing every Cuban kid that can swing a bat.
The rising tide of television revenues has caused all boats to rise, so even though the Royals have had a 43 percent increase in franchise value, they are still the third least valuable franchise in baseball, ahead of only the Marlins and Rays.
Still, it has been a nice return on investment for the $96 million David Glass invested back in 2000 when he purchased the club. Lavish public subsidies to improve the stadiums and a Congressionally-protected monopoly have ensured that baseball can continue to weather any economic storm and enjoy billions in revenues. Its about time wealthy Major League Baseball owners caught a break.