Skip to main content

Screen Wars Thought Leader Interviews are also available on

SpotifyApple PodcastGoogle Podcast
State of the Screens

Will the MLB Lockout Dampen Advertiser Enthusiasm?

By April 7, 2022No Comments

Big news: Baseball is back after a 98-day lockout, the ninth work stoppage for Major League Baseball (MLB) since 1972.

Big question #1: Why was there a lockout?

Quick answer: The collective bargaining agreement from 2017 expired, and owners/players were at an impasse.

Big question #2: What was the primary disagreement between owners and players?

Quick answer: Players argue team revenue/profit is growing faster than salaries.

Player share of revenue by collective bargaining agreement:
1) 2007-11 – 51.6%
2) 2012-16 – 50.2%
3) 2017-21 – 49.3%

MLB total payroll (YoY growth) according to Forbes:
1) 2012 – $3.2B
2) 2013 – $3.8B (↑ 20%)
3) 2014 – $3.6B (↓ 4%)
4) 2015 – $3.9B (↑ 7%)
5) 2026 – $4.1B (↑ 5%)
6) 2017 – $4.2B (↑ 4%)
7) 2018 – $4.6B (↑ 7%)
8) 
2019 – $4.2B (↓ 7%)
9) 2020 – $1.8B (↓ 59%)
10) 2021 – $4.1B (↑ 132%)

Interesting: If adjusted for inflation, the Oakland A’s payroll has declined 30% (↓ $19M) over the past 20 seasons, while franchise value has grown 349% (↑ $869M).

Oakland A’s payroll in 2022 dollars (% change):
1) 2002 – $63M
2) 2022 – $44M (↓ 30%)

Oakland A’s franchise value in 2022 dollars (% change):
1) 2002 – $249M
2) 2022 – $1.2B ( 349%)

MLB franchise value (YoY growth) according to Forbes:
1) 2012 – $607M
2) 2013 – $743M (↑ 22%)
3) 2014 – $811M (↑ 9%)
4) 2015 – $1.20B (↑ 48%)
5) 2026 – $1.29B (↑ 7%)
6) 2017 – $1.54B (↑ 19%)
7) 2018 – $1.65B (↑ 7%)
8) 2019 – $1.78B (↑ 8%)
9) 2020 – $1.85B (↑ 4%)
10) 2021 – $1.90B (↑ 3%)
11) 2022 – $2.07B (↑ 9%)

Top five MLB franchises by value (YoY growth):
1) New York Yankees – $6.0B (↑ 14%)
2) Los Angeles Dodgers – $4.1B (↑ 14%)
3) Boston Red Sox – $3.9B (↑ 13%)
4) Chicago Cubs – $3.8B (↑ 13%)
5) San Francisco Giants – $3.5B (↑ 10%)

% increase between 2012-21:
1) Total payroll – ↑ 29%
2) Average franchise value – ↑ 241%

Big question #3: Did the lockout dampen national advertiser appetite for Major League Baseball?

Quick answer: No. Each of the three national networks is close to selling out for the entire season.

Quote from Mark Evans – EVP of Ad Sales @ Fox Sports:
“It’s hard to aggregate scale quickly in today’s bifurcated environment. If you’re trying to move product, launch a movie, get awareness for a new brand, live sports is the only place in town to do it quickly. It’s the only place to aggregate millions of Americans.”

Outstanding questions:
1) How will new TV rights deals (more $$$) play into the relationship between players and owners?
2) What happens with local (in-market) streaming rights?  Will MLB go DTC with MLB.tv or allow local teams to strike deals (Bally Sports, Amazon, etc.)?

Michael Beach

Michael Beach

Michael Beach is the Chief Executive Officer of Cross Screen Media, a media analytics and software company that enables marketers to plan, activate, and measure CTV and linear TV at the local level. Michael is also the founder and editor of State of the Screens, a weekly newsletter focused on video advertising that is a must-read for thought leaders in the advertising industry. He has appeared in such publications as PBS Frontline, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Axios, CNBC and Bloomberg, and on NPR’s Planet Money podcast.