The Seattle Mariners are joining the continuously expanding group of Major League Baseball teams that own their own sports network.
The Mariners and DirecTV -- in a first for the satellite provider -- announced today that the team will take a majority stake in their current regional television rightsholder, ROOT Sports Northwest. The network, currently owned by DirecTV, will keep its name and look, but the M's will maintain a majority stake in it. The partnership is scheduled to last into the year 2030.
Seattle joins a large number of baseball clubs that have an ownership stake in their regional television provider. The Yankees, Mets, Cubs, White Sox, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Giants, Orioles, Nationals, Phillies and Astros all currently have at least a minority stake in their local network. Most recently, the Los Angeles Dodgers shattered the sound and money barrier, forming a partnership with Time Warner Cable worth $7 billion over 25 years. Much has been written about how teams -- whether through network ownership or simply massive rights fees -- are making a huge amount of revenue through television, which enables them to better compete in terms of signing and developing talent.
The Mariners owning a majority stake in ROOT Sports puts them in an interesting, precarious position. Seattle has been reported, for months, to be in line to possibly receive a new NBA team with the potential move of the Sacramento Kings. An NHL team may be soon to follow in a brand new arena in the city. The Mariners were publicly against the new building. Mariners President Chuck Armstrong said that Chris Hansen, the man behind the movement to build the new arena and bring the winter sports to Seattle, would "rue the day" that he did it.
With the Mariners owning, for now, the only sports television game in town, it appears they've settled with not beating them, but perhaps joining them. Or just attempting to make a lot of money off them.