Moore: The saga of superstations and baseball’s historical resistance to technology

From Jack Moore at The Hardball Times on June 29, 2016:

Ted Turner did not buy the Atlanta Braves because he wanted access to the elite society that is baseball’s owners. No, the 37-year-old Turner was in the early stage of building a media empire, and Turner was one of the earliest to realize the amazing value live sports could bring to a television network. Turner bought the Braves in 1976 and used them in part to grow his WTCG-TV (Watch This Channel Grow, renamed to TBS two years later) to two million subscribers. Turner, it turned out, was a step ahead of the whole world.

Turner had bought the Braves for $10 million, but he was able to put up only $1 million of it up front. Two years later, fueled by his cable business, his net worth had grown to a cool $100 million. The WTCG business model depended on filling air time with programming that was cheap to produce or rebroadcast. Aside from Braves games, WTCG’s main draws were reruns of I Love Lucy, professional wrestling, old movies, and cartoons like Speed Racer. Baseball may not quite be that cheap, but in the Braves, Turner wasn’t just buying a baseball franchise, he was buying three or more hours of premium content for 150 days a year. For the price Turner paid, that was a steal.

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Originally published: June 30, 2016. Last Updated: June 30, 2016.