In late March, the Marlins and Sinclair Broadcast Group announced a multi-year local television rights contract. The specific terms and length of the agreement weren’t disclosed at the time, but Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald now reports it’s a seven-year deal that pays just over $50MM annually. The parties’ previous agreement averaged in the neighborhood of $18MM, Jackson notes, paying the Marlins a league-low $20MM last season.
While the $50+MM average annual value represents a significant increase over the prior contract’s, it’s not an unexpected figure. Craig Mish of SportsGrid reported last month the new local rights deal paid “substantially more than double” the annual salary of its predecessor over a six-plus year term. In January 2020, Jackson reported the Marlins turned down a 2017 offer from Sinclair that would’ve paid more than $50MM annually. The Marlins had hoped to secure around $60MM per season on the new contract, Jackson reports, but the intervening COVID-19 pandemic seems to have made that goal unattainable.
It isn’t clear when or to what extent the new TV deal will affect the Marlins’ payroll. Importantly, there is also no indication of the specific payment breakdown. TV rights deals are often backloaded. It wouldn’t be surprising if that’s the case here, particularly with the pandemic as a backdrop in negotiations. The Marlins have scaled back player payroll quite a bit in recent years, opening 2021 with an estimated $56.9MM outlay that ranks 28th leaguewide, per Cot’s Baseball Contracts.