There are some wild claims of how big of a market the Toronto sports market is. There are those who feel Toronto is a 2nd tier market, and it's sports owners cannot afford to be a top spender, so I will try my best to break down the facts. Readers can decide and chime in. This blog is not to be authoritative but instead to spark a conversation outside of biased media rhetoric or lack thereof about the Toronto baseball market.
The Market size (using comparisons):
California - Population estimates, July 1, 2015, (V2015)
Number of baseball teams serving the market: 5
New York / Massachusetts / Philadelphia Population estimates, July 1, 2015, (V2015)
Number of baseball teams serving the market: 5
Canada - Population estimate 2016
Number of baseball teams serving the market: 1
While assuming the Toronto market is a Canadian market is the biggest assumption here. But can it really be that off? Rogers sports media have an East coast to West coast TV broadcasting rights. Rogers markets Toronto Bluejays as Canada's team, and we all know that national patriotism is still a thing. Worst case scenario, if the BlueJays Market is half of 36.4 Mill, it still is the size of New York state, which has two baseball teams. The Jays have a captured market without any competition, period.
The NY Mets with a far off 2nd, got 215K viewers per game. While the BlueJays pulled in 928K viewers per game.
For those wondering about ratings for the Toronto Blue Jays, while the culled Nielsen numbers do not correspond directly to the viewership data in Canada, ratings through July on SportsNet were up 50% over last year, averaging a solid 928,000 per game across all time slots. Those figures are likely to have increased over the remainder of the season. Source: Forbes
Conclusion: Even if there is statistical proof that Canadians are less affected by advertising and spend less, the BlueJays are an order of magnitude better than other baseball sports markets in terms of marketing worth.
Bluejays 3rd overall in 2016. - Source ESPN
Conclusion: Only bettered by St. Louis and the LA Dodgers, the Jays raked in the fans this year, bolstered by 2015's year of prominence.
In 1993, the provincial government sold the concrete pile to a private company (chaired by Senator Eyton) for $150-million. It was sold again for $80-million in 1999 under the supervision of a bankruptcy court. Finally, in 2004, Ted Rogers and his Toronto Blue Jays snapped it up for $25-million, about four per cent of its cost. Source: The Globe and Mail
The Toronto Blue Jays present an interesting case. They weren’t included in the graphs above. Several years ago, the Blue Jays received $36 million from their RSN, but it’s difficult to accurately discern how much they’ve received over the past few years. The Blue Jays are owned by Rogers, which entity also owns Sportsnet, the channel on which the Blue Jays appear throughout Canada. The Blue Jays are likely only receiving a portion of the television money while the rest stays with the parent company. Source: Fangraphs.com
Conclusion: Rogers paid themselves 35mill a year for the BlueJays TV rights. If they didn't own their own cable network, they could have made a lot more than 35 mil/year. They also saved a crap load of money buying the Skydome for 4% its original cost. Point is on both counts is that operating costs could be very much higher but they are not. Where are the savings going? To the Jays payroll, investments back to the fans?! Don't think so.
The Jays when they won the 92/93 world series led the league in payroll. For all the moneyball/sabrmetrics people out there, there is also a part of the winning culture that comes from bringing the the missing pieces in to put your team over the top. Shades of Jack Morris and David Cone who were the leagues best at the time, showed us Canadians that we could hang with the big boys, if our management and ownership were willing too. We would not have been a world series team two years in a row without bold moves, and spending more than everyone in those days. Nobody is saying spend stupidly, and don't look for the best value. Just saying if we want the best out there in the free agent market to put us over the top, spending shows your will to win.
Rogers 3rd quarter results summed up nicely:
Media revenue and adjusted operating profit up 13% and 36%, respectively, driven by sports assets
Media revenue increased primarily due to the continued success of our sports-related assets, mainly from the strength of Sportsnet, including the World Cup of Hockey in September, and success of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Andrew Stoeten blocked me on twitter last year for calling him a Rogers apologist for stating that Rogers is not spending and being cheap. This year he seem to have gotten the point. Not trying to pick a fight again. I like how he concludes his article linked here, for which I share the same sentiment. Just fuckin' spend.
Conclusion: Jays are 11th in payroll this year. That's is not going to hack it in the AL East. Fans do not have to be 2nd class citizens to shareholders.