If Jorge Mas’ group of investors becomes the new owners of the Miami Marlins, it could mean that the MLB franchise would look to form an expanded partnership with one of the most lucrative sport entertainment businesses in town: Miami’s NFL team.
After fleecing taxpayers of South Florida for a new stadium to augment their business’ valuation, it seems that the Miami Marlins could be looking for another Miami business to help pay operating costs in the interest of building revenue.
According to Claire Atkinson and Josh Kosman of The New York Post, potential new Marlins ownership group leader and South Florida billionaire Jorge Mas has had discussions within his group about launching Miami’s first-ever regional sports network with the aid of the Miami Dolphins.
The aim is to replicate what other MLB franchises have done in establishing their own television content production “machines.” It’s one of two current television models that exist in MLB. The other is to simply sell broadcast rights to a regional network like Fox Sports, as the Marlins currently do. The downside to that, however, is that the broadcast company keeps all the ad revenue from the broadcast of games and other team-related programming.
Franchises like the New York Yankees have instead opened up their own studios and retained their broadcast rights. While they miss out on the check from broadcasters like Fox, they are able to control all aspects of their television presence, including revenue.
The other downside of going the “in-house” route is that there is tremendous overhead to producing your own television content. Between the physical space, staff requirements and equipment costs, the dollars add up quickly. Obviously, that kind of initial investment and maintenance requires a lot of working capital. That’s something that a business which hemorrhages money like the Marlins don’t have a surplus of. Enter the Dolphins.
The rights to broadcast regular season and playoff games played by the Dolphins, like every other NFL team, are controlled by the NFL. All other television content, like pre and post-game shows for local audiences, are controlled by the teams. The Dolphins have been producing their own content in partnership with local television and radio outlets since 2010, and enhanced those offerings with a Fox Sports Florida partnership in 2012.
In theory, Mas as the new owner of the Marlins would have to entice the Dolphins to not only break away from those current agreements to broadcast their in-house productions, but invest in a joint venture to broadcast themselves.
That sharing of the operating costs, especially in the startup phase, is what the Marlins need most. Whether or not it would be worth the move for the Dolphins depends on the old economic equation of revenue minus expenses equals profit.
The Dolphins would bring enormous brand power, including being the television home for preseason games played by the franchise. After the 2020 season, when the Marlins’ current broadcast rights deal with Fox Sports Florida runs out, the new network could also become the television home for all Marlins games.
As potential new owners of the Marlins consider all the aspects of the business, like what to do with the outstanding lawsuits against former season ticket holders, the feasibility of improving revenue has to be a foremost concern. Having their own television network could provide that revenue boost, but the Marlins can’t do it alone. They need the Dolphins. The Dolphins, however, might be better off swimming away.