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Marlins, Sinclair Broadcast Group have “ongoing, serious negotiations” about long-term TV deal

The Marlins, mercifully wrapping up their current FOX Sports Florida contract, are projected to receive a significant television revenue boost in 2021 and beyond.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

As the Marlins game-plan for a return to competitive relevance at the major league level in the near future, it would help to have a clearer picture of the revenue coming in. A critical piece of that equation is their regional television contract, which will be expiring after the 2020 season. Negotiations on a new deal between the Marlins and FOX Sports Florida parent company Sinclair are in “ongoing, serious negotiations,” Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports.

The two sides have had discussions about this dating back several years, according to Jackson’s Project Wolverine coverage in 2018. Since then, however, FSFL—and the other FOX regional networks in the U.S.—changed ownership and other MLB franchises like the Rays, Royals and Rockies have extended deals in their respective markets to establish new baselines for the Marlins.

While it’s unclear what the annual payout will ultimately be, every indication is that the Marlins are due to gain some added financial flexibility. Their $20 million in broadcast revenue for this upcoming season is dead last among MLB franchises (and that is actually an increase from 2018 and 2019 levels). CEO Derek Jeter used a $51.6 million estimate for the 2021 season in Project Wolverine, but keep in mind that document was intended to recruit potential investors and may have been overly optimistic.

From 2018 to 2019, FSFL’s ratings in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale market dropped 14% as the Marlins lacked consistency and star power en route to a 57-105 record. During the ensuring offseason, the front office has made a legitimate effort to add reputable veteran players via free agency and trade. They are again widely projected to finish at the bottom of the NL East standings, though.

As announced earlier on Thursday, FSFL will air the first of six Marlins Spring Training games on Feb. 24. The network is also expected to produce and broadcast all 162 regular season games in 2020.

Courtesy of FOX Sports Florida

Here is another interesting revenue nugget from Jackson’s column:

The Marlins also continue to seek a stadium naming rights deal. The best offer that the Marlins—under previous owner Jeffrey Loria—ever got was $6 million annually, according to a source. But Loria bypassed that offer, intent on securing something more lucrative.

Twenty-five of the other 29 MLB teams currently earn money via stadium naming rights deals. One of my 2020 bold predictions was that the team would secure a naming rights partner for Marlins Park, with Ocean Bank as a prime candidate. Jackson doesn’t specify which companies are in the mix or what the timeline is for an agreement to be reached.

The financial boon from selling naming rights would pale in comparison to television, but consider that the Marlins are about to head to an arbitration hearing with Jesús Aguilar over $250,000. This management group prioritizes efficiency—every dollar counts.

One business area that the Marlins have already addressed? Merchandise. With Fanatics’ cooperation, they will be “extending the availability and assortment” of their products, as announced earlier this month.