How Much Revenue Does MASN Generate For The Orioles?

The Baltimore Orioles regional television network, the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, is a cash cow for the team, but many have wondered just how much it rakes in annually. Some conspiracy theorists have speculated that owner Peter Angelos has been sitting on huge profits while operating his team like they earn mid-market revenue.

This very vocal minority never has any substantial evidence to support their claim and, to no one’s surprise, went quiet when the O’s made the postseason in 2012.

Over at FanGraphs.com, Wendy Thurm broke down all 30 team’s TV deals and pointed out that MASN brings in $29 million annually for both the Orioles and the Washington Nationals.

There was a time when the Yankees and Red Sox stood above the other 28 teams in local TV revenue with their team-owned regional sports networks. When it comes to yearly rights fees, that’s not the case anymore. But the owners of the Yankees and Red Sox — and now Mets, Orioles, and Nationals — continue to rake in millions of dollars in profits from the operation of their RSNs. And again, as noted, these profits are not subject to revenue-sharing.

It seems like a good deal of cash, but the Orioles find themselves behind a number of markets when it comes to TV revenue. The Dodgers, Angels, Rangers, Astros, Padres, Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Phillies, Diamondbacks, Mariners, Reds, Tigers, Blue Jays and Indians all earn over $29 million from their TV deals.

That’s half of Major League Baseball, for those of you counting at home.

That number is about to go down. The Nationals, who own 13 percent of MASN, are currently in a mediation dispute over the annual rights fee.

Perhaps the Orioles haven’t been secretly pocketing money all along.

Zach Wilt is the Founding Editor of BaltimoreSportsReport.com and host of the BSR Podcast. He's a loyal Orioles, Ravens and Capitals fan who is obsessed with baseball, loves traveling, In-N-Out Burger and Walt Disney World.

14 Comments

  1. Steve

    November 28, 2012 at 9:47 am

    The $29M is only right rights fee that MASN ‘pays’ the Orioles. This doesn’t take into account at all how much money the network is making for Angelos ($2.19 per subscriber per month times ??? number of households)

    • MGW

      November 28, 2012 at 11:16 am

      With all due respect, ESPN charges about $4.50 per household, a fact easily checked through reputable online sources like Forbes, etc. I would highly doubt that MASN could command $2.19 per household, even if just in the mid-atlantic region.

  2. MGW

    November 28, 2012 at 11:18 am

    BTW…TNT charges each subscriber $1.16 per household. Again, realizing that TNT is nationwide and offers more than just feeds of ESPN News like MASN does.

  3. Jimbo

    November 28, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    • MGW

      November 28, 2012 at 3:08 pm

      Jimbo…let’s do the math from the article you quoted…

      3.4 million TV homes (assuming everyone HAS cable TV) x $2.14 x 12 months =
      $87.312 million.

      If the Nats get $29 mil, that leaves $58 mil for the Orioles and re-investment in the network.

      Teams like the Yankees are making $100+ million.

  4. Jimbo

    November 28, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    According to MASN itself (www.masnsports.com/microsites/affiliates/print.pdf) they reach more than 6 million cable households. 6M households x $2.14 per month x 12 months per year = $154M per year. So they pay out $29M per year to the O’s and the Nats, pay for all the production costs and pocket the rest. No wonder they don’t care about selling commercials – they’re making a mint on subscriber fees alone.

    • MGW

      November 28, 2012 at 3:10 pm

      You didn’t read the whole article…It’s only 3.4 million TV homes, NOT 6 million.

    • MGW

      November 28, 2012 at 3:12 pm

      From your article…

      According to Nielsen, Washington, D.C. is the 8th-largest television market with 2.36 million TV homes and Baltimore is ranked 27th with 1.1 million.

  5. Jimbo

    November 28, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    MASN’s MLB territorial area includes not just Baltimore/DC but all of Virginia, all of North Carolina, and part of central PA.

    From MASN’s own publication: http://www.masnsports.com/microsites/affiliates/print.pdf

    “MASN will cover 15 DMAs from Harrisburg, PA to Wilmington, NC, reaching more than 6.6 million Cable/Satellite homes.”

    Are you saying MASN is lying to its advertisers? Although according to your math, MASN makes no money from advertisers because all you’re tallying is subscriber fees.

    I’m not going to argue this here any more, as I’ve come to realize that the article’s author has worked for MASN and continues to write a blog for the network’s website. Clearly the objective is to make MASN look good, not to honestly discuss its revenues and how much of its profits go to the Orioles, vs. how much goes in Angelos’s pocket. But it’s clearly absurd to say that the $29 million MASN pays the Orioles in fees is all the money that’s going from the network to Angelos.

  6. MGW

    November 28, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    Clearly you listen to too much WNST as the Forbes article demonstrates the revenue stream.

    Oh, and MLB identified the Orioles as the #16 revenue producing team putting them in the bottom half of the league, albeit the TOP part of the lower half. In so identifying them as such, they were awarded with a supplemental draft pick.

    I guess all of the other teams just went along with this assessment with no contest.

    But NST and their ilk continue to spew propaganda with little or no evidence to support their claims.

    If you wnt to discuss the revolving door of GMs, managers, poor player personnel decisions, and not always treating the fans the best, those would all fair criticisms of the owner and the team. But continuing to speculate or guess what the revenue stream is ignoring MLB and Forbes just shows the brainwashing is working.

  7. Jimbo

    November 28, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    I’m not sure where you the WNST reference comes in, because everything I’ve written comes from either Forbes or MASN’s own website. Nowhere have you responded to MASN’s own document that says they reach 6.6 million cable/satellite households.

    But since you clearly take the Forbes article as gospel, let’s discuss this direct quote from the article: “As a result, MASN’s revenue will likely be under $200 million this year.”

    I estimated its revenue – from subscriber fees only – at $154 million, which corresponds to your faith in the Forbes article. Now let’s do the math. $154 million minus the $58 million in fees to the Orioles and Nationals = $96 million. Where did all that money go? To pay Jim Hunter and Tom Davis?

    Put it another way – the gospel Forbes article says the Nationals are asking for $100 million. They must have a pretty good idea that MASN is making enough to pay the O’s and the Nats both $100 million per year in fees and still have some profit left over.

    Why would you deny this? Oh, that’s right – because the article’s author is on the MASN payroll.

  8. Jimbo

    November 28, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    One more point – the Orioles’ revenue and the money that Angelos pockets from MASN are two completely different things. The Orioles’ revenue from MASN is $29 million which probably does put them right in the middle of the pack.

    But the leftover $96 million (give or take a few tens of millions of dollars) doesn’t count as Orioles revenue because it belongs to MASN, and it goes into Angelos’s pocket. The Orioles’ revenues and MASN’s revenues are two completely separate matters. The Nationals know this, which is why they are trying to increase their fees from MASN from $29M to $100M.

    • Bobby

      December 4, 2012 at 6:03 pm

      You know that MASN has other expenses as well like the money that goes to the Ravens (like Comcast pays to the Redskins) for their pre-season and other content, the money that goes to ESPN for all of the time MASN has no other content and all of the other programming that isn’t baseball games throughout the year. Also the deal when the Nationals moved to DC was designed so that Angelos would get an unfair share since the Nationals were carving out a piece of his TV market and he was getting no other money for the devaluing of his franchise. Think of it as if you were to own a Subway and Subway sold a license for another Subway to a different owner right across the street.

  9. MGW

    November 28, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    And yet despite all of this, MLB ignores the $96 million Angelos pockets and rewards them with compensatory draft picks. None of the other 29 teams balks at this fact and the dumb New York Yankees and the rest of the teams aren’t smart enough to figure out this loophole.

    I’ve got it now.