Television contracts are a huge deal in baseball these days. You can have all of the analytical edges in the world and you can employ those techniques to find any advantage you can, but financial power is still a huge deal in this sport, and having a decent TV deal helps plenty of teams even the playing field in that regard.
That is one area in which the Atlanta Braves are lagging far, far behind the competition, as they not only have one of the worst TV contracts in baseball, but they're also locked into that contract until 2027. Two-thousand-and-twenty-seven! SunTrust Park will be ten years old (and maybe halfway done with its lifespan if you are really cynical about the Braves and their stadiums) by the time their contract runs out. That is an extremely long time to be tethered to a bad TV deal, and the Braves really have no choice but to make do with what they have until then.
With that being said, Liberty Media apparently has their eyes squarely focused on the day that contract expires. If they're still the owners of the Braves by then, then they're obviously hoping to benefit from a windfall of a new TV deal, and they expect the money to be stratospheric by then.
[Liberty Media CEO Greg] Maffei said while sports broadcasting star ESPN has to deal with the potential losses from cable watchers cutting their cords and ESPN having to deliver skinnier TV bundles, the Braves can hope for better revenue once their 20-year local TV rights deal expires in 2027. Maffei said it is "the longest-lived deal in baseball."
Baseball’s national TV revenues, of which the Braves get a portion, also are growing, Maffei said, thanks in part to Braves Chairman Terry McGuirk, a former Turner Broadcasting CEO who sits on the sport’s media rights committee.
"So the opportunity I think looks good for national, but particularly looks good for us in local given that we have this long-lived contract which is less attractive than many of our peers," Maffei said.
So, as long as the Braves can make do until this relatively elderly TV contract expires, there is indeed a light at the end of the tunnel. It's too bad that the Braves will have to wait a solid decade until then, but hey, once that day comes, watch out! It'll be a glorious day when this team finally gets out from under this deal, since it'll probably be a thorn in the side of the baseball operations for the life of the contract.