In September 2010, with the up-and-coming Texas Rangers on the way to the playoffs, a report came out. An important, jaw-dropping report. According to the report, the Rangers and Fox Sports Southwest had agreed to a 20-year television rights contract extension worth $3 billion. If you're bad at math, or even if you're not, that works out to $150 million a year. It was to be one of the most lucrative TV deals in the sport.
It was a good time to be a Rangers fan. Then, shortly thereafter, another report came out. This report referred to the initial report as being "wildly inflated". The actual terms of the contract extension were $1.6 billion over 20 years, beginning in 2015. It was still a good time to be a Rangers fan, and that was still a great contract, but it was less of a great contract. Considerably less.
Okay, that's the background. Now then, remember when the Los Angeles Angels signed Albert Pujols? And remember when they signed C.J. Wilson, too, and the signings were so close together they might as well have been delivered in the same Twitter update? Some people wondered where the Angels got that kind of money, and the Los Angeles Times provided an answer:
The Angels have agreed to a new deal with Fox Sports worth at least $3 billion and expected to cover 20 years, two parties familiar with the deal said Thursday. The parties declined to be identified because the deal has yet to be officially announced.
There's that $3 billion over 20 years again. According to Bill Shaikin and Kevin Baxter, the Angels had opted out of their previous TV contract and negotiated a much bigger TV contract. At $150 million a year - "at least" - the new deal gave the Angels more financial flexibility.
People have continued to cite these terms. The general understanding is that the Angels have a new 20-year TV deal worth $3 billion. But it turns out there's an inconsistency. The article above was published on December 8. On December 10, Mike DiGiovanna - also of the Los Angeles Times - wrote:
"We are very blessed economically with a television package and supportive fans," Angels owner Arte Moreno said, alluding to a 17-year extension with Fox Sports that is worth between $2 billion and $2.5 billion.
And from Fox Sports, on December 20:
That new deal was finalized in early December, guaranteeing the Angels in excess of $2 billion over the next 20 years and more than doubling their annual TV revenue ($50 million a year under the old deal).
One report says that the Angels' new deal is worth at least $150 million a year, over 20 years. Another report says that the Angels' new deal is worth between $118 - $147 million a year, over 17 years. Still another report says that the Angels' new deal is worth more than $100 million a year, over 20 years. What all the reports have in common is that the deal is long and lucrative. What they don't have in common is the degree of lucrativeness.
The difference between this situation and the Rangers' situation a year ago is that, a year ago, follow-up reports referred to the initial reports as being inflated. We don't have that this time around, so we don't know which report might be most accurate. We do have an order of delivery, which might matter. It is interesting that the Times' original terms have been followed by lesser terms.
Whatever the size of the Angels' new deal, we know that it's big. It's bigger than the Rangers' new deal, which doesn't kick in for another few years. We also know that, hey, talking about this stuff isn't very interesting, especially if you don't particularly care about the Angels or the American League. But TV deals are becoming a critical source of revenue, so it's important to have an understanding of what's going on. What's going on? The Angels might have a new TV deal worth $150 million a year, for 20 years. Or the Angels might have a new TV deal worth significantly less than that.