There has been a ton of controversy over the new Padres television deal in the last few months. The deal is set to pay the Padres close to $1 billion over the next 20 years, a deal that is exponentially larger that their previous deal with COX. The television deal with COX paid the Padres approximately $15 million a year, pennies compared to the larger markets in Major League Baseball.
The new television deal with FOX was supposed to benefit the Padres for many reasons. The first reason is obvious — money. In theory, the Padres are to have more money to spend on payroll, in hopes of building a consistent winner in America’s Finest City. The second was to increase the exposure of the club. The Padres were previously only available on COX, and on Time Warner. The Padres were not available on any satellite carriers. The new television deal was supposed to make the Padres accessible to every cable and satelliate carrier available in the greater San Diego area.
Well, we are halfway through July, and the Padres are not available to 42 percent of San Diego County. Fox Sports San Diego has only reached deals with COX and Directv. From recent reports, they are nowhere close to reaching deals with Time Warner, AT&T, or Dish Network.
From a Time Warner standpoint, Fox is asking for five times the amount that Time Warner paid for Channel 4 San Diego. There has been no wiggle room on either side, and no deal appears to be imminent. Thousands of Padre fans are unable to watch games, unless they make the trek to Petco Park. One would think that the Padres would step in to end this ridiculous and embarrassing fiasco. I am not sure what they can do in a stalemate between television corporations, but here is an example of how the television deal is only hurting the Padres.
I have a 12-year-old nephew who is finally become interested in sports. He played Little League for the first time this year, and was bitten by the baseball bug. Now he watches baseball nonstop. Games on ESPN, MLB Network, and on MLB.tv. I think the kid loves baseball more than I did at his age, which is pretty remarkable.
But alas, my nephew does not have access to FSSD. My sister has AT&T U-Verse, which does not carry the Padres. The hometown nine is blacked out on MLB.tv, so he has access to 29 teams, just not the Padres. I am sure there are several young kids in this situation, and the Padres are missing a golden opportunity to get their hooks into young fans. Much like Tony Gwynn and the 1998 squad made me love the game.
Why would my nephew concern himself with a crap product that he cannot even watch? He can turn on MLB Network, and watch Mike Trout make circus catches, and slam home runs. Matt Kemp is back in action, and San Diego kids with Time Warner can watch him play more often than the Padres. Does that disgust anyone else out there?
Diego is viewed as a “fair-weather” sports town, and that assessment is completely accurate. San Diego is a town full of transplants, who have allegiances with other teams. Others have no interest in sports, unless the Padres or Chargers are winning. Then there are the diehard fans, like myself. San Diego clearly needs to develop young fans. The Padres sponsored Little League teams all over the county, which I thought was a brilliant move. However, the Padres are dropping the ball, by making their product inaccessible to viewers all over the county.
The problem needs to be addressed, before the Padres lose these young fans forever.