Largest lever for revenue is winning: Blue Jays CEO on the business of baseball amid COVID-19
The Toronto Blue Jays are having a good year – four games back of an American League wildcard playoff spot, with half a season yet to play.
And the team is also having a material effect on the bottom line at its owner, Rogers Communications Inc.
Rogers said Wednesday the return of Blue Jays baseball contributed to an 84 per cent increase in revenue in its media segment. That’s the segment in which the Blue Jays – and Rogers Sportsnet, which broadcasts Blue Jays games – are held. Revenue surged to $546 million in the quarter ended on June 30, versus just $296 million a year earlier.
The big increase reflects the fact that this year’s Major League Baseball season began on time in early April. The pandemic-shortened 2020 MLB season began on July 23, meaning Blue Jays revenue in the second quarter of 2020 would have been negligible.
But a big league baseball team is not an inexpensive business to operate, and the Blue Jays payroll was also a factor in the results. Rogers cited Blue Jays salaries as a factor behind an 88 per cent increase in operating expenses in the media unit. That was enough to drive an EBITDA loss of $75 million in media when all was said and done.
The Blue Jays do not disclose specific Blue Jays financial details. But according to Spotrac – an online service that tracks sports payrolls – the team is paying its players US$144.5 million this season. That converts to C$182.8 million – or about 5.1 per cent of Rogers’ total revenue of $3.58 billion.
According to Spotrac, outfielder George Springer – the off-season’s big free agent signing – tops the list with an annual salary of US$23.7 million. Right-handed pitcher Trevor Richards is the most modestly paid Blue Jay, at US$580,900.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story included incorrect information about the wild card standings. BNN Bloomberg regrets the error.