Q&A with Twins President Dave St. Peter on New One-Year Deal with Bally Sports North
The Twins recently announced that they have reached a one-year deal with Bally Sports North for the 2024 season. This agreement, however, falls short of the team’s goal to expand the telecast’s reach with an expanded streaming option. Despite this setback, Twins President and CEO Dave St. Peter remains optimistic about the future and is already looking ahead to 2025.
The one-year deal with Bally Sports North was approved in bankruptcy court, as the parent company of the Bally regional sports networks, Diamond Sports Group, aims to avoid liquidation. While St. Peter did not disclose the specific rights fee paid by Bally Sports North to the Twins, he emphasized that the return to their prior broadcasting partner is generally viewed as a positive move.
According to St. Peter, the people behind the production, sales, and distribution of Twins games at Bally Sports North have been critical partners for the team for a long time. Despite the challenges faced by their parent company, St. Peter believes that these individuals will continue to do an exceptional job in 2024. He also highlights the importance of recognizing that the uncertainty surrounding the parent company’s situation has impacted the livelihood of these local individuals who have no control over the national challenges.
While the one-year deal brings some closure for the 2024 season, it is not a perfect outcome for anyone involved. St. Peter acknowledges that it falls short of the Twins’ objective to expand the reach of their games, leaving a growing number of fans in a position where it will be harder for them to watch. However, he assures fans that this priority will guide their decisions going forward, and they will take significant steps to enhance accessibility in 2025.
St. Peter expresses confidence in MLB’s continued focus on finding solutions and Commissioner Rob Manfred’s vision for 2025. He believes that a bright future awaits Twins television, both in terms of linear distribution and direct-to-consumer options. While MLB provides a solid option for the team in 2025, St. Peter suggests that other opportunities have also been explored through conversations with Diamond and other broadcasters.
The alignment between the broadcaster, the team, and the league is crucial to expanding reach. Unfortunately, this alignment was not achieved for the 2024 season. St. Peter compares it to a three-legged stool that requires balance and coordination. Despite this setback, the Twins remain open-minded about improving the team and are willing to consider moves in the short term or over the course of the season.
Regarding the impact of the TV deal on payroll, St. Peter believes that the clarity around the economics is helpful in setting a plan for 2024. However, it remains to be seen how much of an impact the TV deal will have on operations and payroll. The ownership has always been open-minded about investing in the team, but any impact on short-term player investments will ultimately depend on market conditions and opportunities.
When asked about the breakdown between the drop in payroll and attendance concerns, St. Peter did not provide specific details but acknowledged that local media is one element that impacts the team’s business plan. Other factors also come into play when considering budget allocation.
St. Peter praises Commissioner Manfred’s vision for aggregating teams and gaining scale in 2025. While there is still much work to be done and questions to be answered in the rapidly changing media landscape, the Twins believe in this vision and are eager to see it come to fruition.
In conclusion, St. Peter wants fans to know that the Twins understand their concerns and are not tone-deaf to the gap in accessibility. They are committed to resolving this issue and enhancing accessibility as soon as possible. St. Peter believes that it is critical for both the Twins and the industry as a whole to ensure that fans can easily watch their favorite team play. With their sights set on 2025, the Twins are hopeful for a future that includes expanded reach and improved accessibility for their loyal fanbase.