Liberty CEO: Reworked TV deals mean '$500M' to Braves

The Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionMay 8, 2014 

Cardinals Braves Baseball

Atlanta Braves' Justin Upton (8) is greeted by his teammates at the dugout after hitting a solo-home run in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Tuesday, May 6, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)


Changes in the Braves' local television deals will generate about $500 million in additional revenue for the team "over the life of the contracts," the chief executive of Braves owner Liberty Media revealed today.

The TV deals were reworked last year and were known to have increased the team's revenue, but Liberty CEO Greg Maffei, speaking on a quarterly conference call with investment analysts, shed new light on the financial significance of the changes.

"Through some good work at the management of the Braves and a confluence of events, we were able to renegotiate positively a bunch of those rights and receive probably in the order of $500 million of incremental revenue over the life of the contracts of value to us," Maffei said. "So that's been very positive. … That adds a lot of value even on a present value basis to the Braves."

Maffei said the Braves' TV deals originally ran through 2027, but he didn't say how long the reworked deals run.

On today's conference call, Maffei also applauded Braves management for its operation of the team and its work on the planned new stadium in Cobb County.

"The Braves have done many things well over the last few years," Maffei said. "They have not been a cash consumer. They have not been an enormous payroll company. They have created a great product with a controlled payroll, and accordingly have been a profitable team.

"And most recently the actions that they are taking to create the new stadium and the complex around it ... are going to create a lot of value for the Braves. So that asset has gone up quite nicely in value over the last several years, and I expect the completion of the stadium will continue that trend."

Referring to the mixed-use complex of shops, restaurants, offices, hotels and residences planned adjacent to the Cobb stadium, Maffei said the Braves will own "or have a participation in" many of those facilities.

Last year's reworked TV deals resulted in 45 games that previously were televised on Peachtree TV shifting to Fox's regional sports channels Fox Sports South and SportSouth. Those channels are scheduled to carry a combined 156 Braves games this season.

Previous Braves owner Time Warner had the original long-term deals, which quickly proved to be below the going market rate, in place before selling the team in 2007.

"We knew that when we bought the team, and the team price reflected that," Maffei said. "Of course, we also had some other positive elements in the tax-free nature of the transaction."

Liberty Media is a Colorado-based company with a range of businesses in the media and entertainment industries.

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