Mariners purchase majority stake in TV network
Instead of starting their own regional sports network outright,
the Seattle Mariners went for an option they hope will produce
favorable financial results while not facing the headache of
getting their product on the air.
The Mariners and DIRECTV Sports Networks announced Tuesday a
partnership in a new regional sports network where the franchise
will be the majority stakeholder in the operation. The deal will
run through the conclusion of the 2030 baseball season with DIRECTV
Sports Networks taking a minority position but overseeing the daily
management of the network.
Mariners vice president of business operations Bob Aylward said
negotiations with DIRECTV Sports Networks first started in 2010.
Much of the time early in the conversations was learning how
television deals were changing the financial landscape around
baseball. No terms of the deal were released by either side, but
Aylward stressed the Mariners’ new deal makes them competitive with
the rest of the AL West.
”Since these conversations started in 2010 we’ve learned a lot
about the TV industry and regional sports networks,” Aylward said.
”… Today’s news is great for the Mariners, ROOT Sports and for
the sports fans in the Northwest. … It provides resources for us
to remain competitive with teams in our division and throughout
The Mariners will continue to operate the network under the ROOT
Sports brand and there are no changes to distribution. They will
continue to show other pro, college and high school sports
programing. Seattle believes it is maximizing the value of its
television rights by becoming the majority partner and putting
itself in an advantageous position should other pro sports
organizations in the Northwest seek regional TV deals.
There had been speculation that if the sale and relocation of
the Sacramento Kings to Seattle is approved by the NBA and the
SuperSonics return, that prospective owner Chris Hansen may look to
start his own network. The Mariners sounded more than willing to
partner on TV deals should that happen.
”Now it’s going to be in our interest to want more professional
sports teams in Seattle,” Aylward said.
The Mariners’ new deal was finalized two years before they could
re-negotiate their current television contract. Aylward believed
Seattle was not bypassing a more lucrative deal in the future by
finalizing this transaction now rather than seeing what
negotiations could lead to in the future.
”We’re not in the habit of leaving dollars on the table, which
does not mean we’re not loyal to our friends,” Aylward said. ”I
think we have tried to accomplish both of these things. It’s
important not to lose sight of the distribution that ROOT already
has up. … There are many, many factors that go into these
decisions. Did we leave money on the table? I don’t think so.”