Big money in overseas broadcasts

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Big money in overseas broadcasts

The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) allocates revenue from sales of merchandise and broadcasting rights equally among its 10 clubs, regardless of league results.

But what if a team signs a foreign player and the KBO were to sell broadcasting rights to another country? Should the team with the foreign player receive all the revenue from overseas sales?

The issue surfaced last month when Premier 12 home run champion Lin Chih-sheng of Taiwan was rumored to sign with a Korean club.

In the end, Lin did not join the KBO, instead signing with the Chinatrust Brothers in the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) earlier this month. But the rumors raised questions about whether dividing league revenue equally is fair.

Yang Hae-young, the KBO secretary general, recently told Ilgan Sports, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily, that if the KBO sells broadcasting rights to a foreign country in the future, the league is considering giving more money to the team with a player from that country.

According to Lee Jin-hyung, a director at KBOP, the marking affiliate of the KBO, broadcasting rights for Korea’s top professional baseball league have been never sold overseas, though there have been occasions when foreign broadcasters bought KBO League video clips for use of their data.

Kim Yoon-suk, who represented Lin for overseas contracts, didn’t miss the 34-year-old infielder’s marketing potential when promoting him.

Kim argued that since Lin, the 2015 CPBL MVP and first in the league to achieve 30-30, is Taiwan’s top baseball superstar and the successor to Chen Chin-feng, the first Taiwanese to play for Major League Baseball, broadcasters in Taiwan will be interested in showing Lin’s games there.

But the bid from a Korean club never came. And while there could have been many reasons Korean clubs did not sign Lin this offseason, experts have suggested that changing the way in which broadcasting revenue is shared could spur Korean teams to carefully consider marketing aspects when recruiting foreign players.

It isn’t rare for pro sports clubs to take into account marketing potential when signing foreign players. The Los Angeles Dodgers saw their Asian fan base grow after signing Park Chan-ho in 1994 and Ryu Hyun-jin in 2013.

Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) has also benefited from recruiting Korean players. In 2004, when KBO all-time home run leader Lee Seung-yeop was playing for the Chiba Lotte Marines, broadcasting rights for his games reportedly sold for 4 billion won ($3.3 million).

In the NPB, broadcasting revenue goes to the individual club.

BY CHOI MIN-KYOO, JOO KYUNG-DON [joo.kyungdon@joongang.co.kr]
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