The Phillies were never interested in a bidding war for the rights to televise their games. They negotiated for the last year with Comcast SportsNet, a network with which they once partnered before it even broadcasted. The way Phillies president David Montgomery saw things, two powerful Philadelphia corporations could find a common ground that benefitted both.
"We're pleased," Montgomery said Friday. "And I think Comcast is pleased."
The two sides, according to two sources, agreed to a massive 25-year contract Thursday worth more than $2.5 billion that will provide Comcast SportsNet with invaluable live summer programming and the Phillies with another substantial revenue source.
The Phillies will acquire an equity stake in Comcast SportsNet, one of the nation's most successful regional sports networks, Montgomery said. The advertising revenue, which was split favorably for the Phillies, will be adjusted in exchange for a higher rights-fee payment. The major financial components of the new deal will activate in 2016, Montgomery said.
The average annual rights fee over the duration of the contract is $100 million, but the annual fee will begin at a smaller number and grow each year, according to a source.
The Phillies ended last season with a 73-89 record and Major League Baseball's fourth-highest payroll. Montgomery said he expects his club to maintain that level of spending, although there will be no immediate uptick.
"I don't see us going any higher than where we've been," Montgomery said. "For us, the secret is to spend it well, not necessarily tied to how much. Since we've moved in here, we have been able to be a club that is substantial in its payroll. I assume we will continue to be in the top four or five in the game. Hopefully we'll make some good decisions and people will see an improved club in 2014. That's what we believe."
The immediate change is how the games are distributed. Comcast SportsNet was limited to a maximum of 120 Phillies games in the past with some 40 shown on PHL17. Beginning in 2014, Comcast SportsNet will have no cap but is expected to choose 10-15 games to appear on NBC10, its sister station.
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