Changes in the Braves’ local television deals will generate about $500 million in additional revenue for the team “over the life of the contracts,” the chief executive of Braves owner Liberty Media revealed today.
The TV deals were reworked last year, but Liberty CEO Greg Maffei, speaking on a quarterly conference call with Wall Street analysts, shed new light on the financial significance of the changes.
“Through some good work at the management of the Braves and a confluence of events, we were able to renegotiate positively a bunch of those (TV) rights and receive probably in the order of $500 million of incremental revenue over the life of the contracts,” Maffei said. “So that’s been very positive. … That adds a lot of value, even on a present value basis, to the Braves.”
Maffei said the Braves’ TV deals originally ran through 2027, but he didn’t say how long the renegotiated deals run.
On the call, Maffei also applauded Braves management for its operation of the team and its work on the new stadium scheduled to open in Cobb County in 2017.
“The Braves have done many things well over the last few years,” Maffei said. “They have not been a cash consumer. They have not been an enormous payroll company. They have created a great product with a controlled payroll, and accordingly have been a profitable team.
“And most recently the actions that they are taking to create the new stadium and the complex around it … are going to create a lot of value for the Braves. So that asset has gone up quite nicely in value over the last several years, and I expect the completion of the stadium will continue that trend.”
Referring to the mixed-use complex of shops, restaurants, offices, hotels and residences planned adjacent to the Cobb stadium, Maffei said the Braves will own “or have a participation in” many of those facilities.
The combination of the new stadium and the reworked TV deals have fueled the Braves’ recent flurry of long-term contract extensions to key players.
Since February, the team has signed five players — first baseman Freddie Freeman, shortstop Andrelton Simmons, closer Craig Kimbrel, starting pitcher Julio Teheran and third baseman Chris Johnson — to contracts that extend to 2017 or beyond. Those five contracts are worth a guaranteed total of $290.9 million, with $203.8 million of it to be paid out in 2017 or later.
The reworked TV deals resulted in 45 games that previously were televised on Peachtree TV shifting last season to Fox’s regional sports channels Fox Sports South and SportSouth. Those channels are scheduled to carry a combined 156 Braves games this season.
Previous Braves owner Time Warner had 20-year TV deals, which quickly proved to be for far below the going market rate, in place before selling the team in 2007.
“We knew that when we bought the team, and the team price reflected that,” Maffei said. “Of course, we also had some other positive elements in the tax-free nature of the transaction.”
Liberty Media, a Colorado-based company that owns interests in a broad range of media, communications and entertainment businesses, acquired the Braves as part of a much larger stock transaction with Time Warner.