UPDATE: The deal is worth more than $2.5 billion across 25 years, reports Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The annual rights fee will average $100 million, but it will start out smaller and gradually increase during the life of the contract.
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The Phillies have finally landed the enormous television contract that has been rumored for years. The team and Comcast SportNet have agreed to a long-term broadcasting deal, the network announced on Thursday. Here's the statement from Maureen Quilter, Comcast's senior director of communications:
“We're pleased to confirm that NBCUniversal and Comcast SportsNet have signed a new long-term deal with the Philadelphia Phillies that will expand Comcast SportsNet's role as the Phillies' primary TV partner. Although the terms of the comprehensive deal are confidential, details surrounding the 2014 schedule of games will be provided in the coming months.”
Kevin Cooney of the Bucks County Courier Times says the deal is believed to span 20-25 years. Financial terms are said to be "massive" and along the lines of other recently signed television deals. The Phillies will not start their own regional broadcasting network but will receive a similar payout, according to Cooney.
The team received only $35 million per year under their old agreement, which is a pittance by today's standards. Even small market clubs like the Astros and Padres are getting $65+ million annually nowadays. The Dodgers recently agreed to a 20-25 year deal worth upwards of $7 billion while the Rangers landed a more modest $1.6 billion across 20 years.
The new agreement with Comcast kicks in after the 2015 season, when their current deal expires. MLB recently signed new national television contract with Fox, TBS and ESPN that put roughly $50 million in each team's pocket each season.
The Phillies already boast one of baseball's highest payrolls, but they'll be able to crank the spending up another notch once the new television deal takes effect. The team has struggled the last two years and attendance has dropped, however.