Seattle Mariners Form New Regional Sports Television Partnership

April 17, 2013

The Seattle Mariners have announced a partnership with DIRECTV Sports Network to form a new regional sports television partnership on Tuesday that will give the baseball team a controlling interest in the year-round broadcast network and help the club compete financially in the American League West in the long term.

DIRECTV Sports Network is the Mariners’ long-standing television rights holder, but the team now takes over the majority stake in the new venture.

The network will continue to operate under the ROOT Sports brand and will provide year-round coverage of the Mariners as well as other professional, college and high school sports programming.

The agreement provides that the network will televise the Mariners through the 2030 season and increases potential revenue that can be used to bolster the team’s player payroll.

Steve Greenberg, a member of the New York investment bank Allen & Company that advised the Mariners on the transaction, said: “All five clubs in the American League West now have long-term TV deals in place for many years and the Mariners are in a better position than some of their rivals and actually competitive with all their rivals within the division. We believe that’s an important milestone to have achieved.

“MLB clubs that own a substantial stake in their own [regional sports networks] tend to be among the strongest and most stable franchises in the league.”

DIRECTV Sports Networks president Patrick Crumb noted that “from a viewer perspective, there really will be no visible change.”

But the financial aspect of the agreement puts the Mariners on more-equal footing with teams like the Angels and Rangers that have reworked their own deals in recent years, which is why the club has been pursuing such a partnership since late 2010, according to Bob Aylward, Mariners executive vice president of business operations.

“It gives us the ability to make the long-range planning that our competitors have been able to enjoy,” Aylward said. “We’ll now be able to compete on the same level. The intention of this organization and owners is to compete at all levels and make sure we have a product that gets us into the World Series and win a championship. This deal in itself doesn’t do that, but it’s a piece of the puzzle and we’re delighted to have this to work with.”