Great article on Philly.com today about the one difference that still reamins between the Phillies and teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Mets: a TV station.
The biggest money-maker for those teams is not ticket or merchandise sales, it's advertising revenue from their own TV networks. As you know, the Phillies broadcast most of their games on CSN (their 45 on regular broadcast TV, like My PHL 17, is well above league average). The Phillies used to own a small share of Comcast SportsNet, but after a few years they realized they were better at running a baseball team than they were at running a television network. That means the Phillies still earn ad revenue (safe and secure with New York Life) from their broadcasts, but not nearly as much as some of their rivals to the north.
In 2009, the Yankees and Mets earned $417 million and $339 million from their YES and SNY networks, respectively. That was more than all of their other income sources combined. The Phillies, who won't divulge an exact number, didn't approach those numbers.
Baseball is the only sport with no salary cap. That means the more you make, the more you can spend (of course, teams to have to pay a "luxury tax" to the poorer teams). This is the reason the Phillies have a self-imposed soft cap on their 2010 payroll- around $140 million. The Phillies only earn $123 million in ticket sales. While that number may sound like a lot, it puts in perspective just how much other teams earn from owning their own networks.
The problems with the Phillies starting their own network are many. Given the popularity of Comcast in Philadelphia, the Phillies would have to reach an agreement with them to televise their games. That could turn into a pissing match of epic proportions. Further, the team would need to provide content 24/7. CSN already does this in Philly. The team doesn't think there is enough room for another, similar network.
"Comcast is so big in Philly," said Buck. "We'd need to program our own station 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Phillies games themselves would be one part of it, but then you'd need to be in the business of being a TV station.
So, don't expect to be watching games on "PSN" any time soon. But, as the article details, if the Phillies keeping winning, the money will keep rolling in.