SBD/May 7, 2013/Franchises

Nationals, Orioles Carefully Compete In Overlapping Marketing, TV Territory

DC's media market and fanbase are far larger than Baltimore's
The Nationals' arrival in DC in ‘05 “created a complicated relationship” between the team and the Orioles, where the teams are “at once neighbors, opponents on the field and, lately, bickering business partners when it comes to the regional television network they co-own but the Orioles control,” according to Jeff Barker of the Baltimore SUN. The clubs are “outwardly cordial,” and both front offices are “anxious to keep it that way.” But “maintaining the relationship can be challenging.” The clubs are “like roommates sharing a space that one had long occupied.” They must make “delicate calculations about how far they can go in marketing without intruding on the other's turf.” The teams “seem to have more flexibility to promote themselves across the region than their NFL counterparts,” the Ravens and Redskins. If MLB has “carved out marketing territories -- and it says it has -- it's not sharing them publicly.” DC’s “natural marketing territory, which includes rapidly growing Northern Virginia, dwarfs Baltimore's in population.” Meanwhile, the DC media market is ranked eighth nationally, while Baltimore is ranked 27th. The Nationals say their marketing territory and TV footprint "are essentially the same and include Washington, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and parts of West Virginia, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.” The Orioles' reach is "very similar.” The team's radio network "has affiliates in Washington and all the Nationals' states." The Orioles also “don't believe countless baseball fans in Washington, Virginia and other states abandoned the team once the Nationals showed up.” But the Nationals “see it differently.” Nationals COO Andy Feffer said that DC-area fans “may still follow the Orioles but were ready to embrace a new team” (Baltimore SUN, 5/5).

BELTWAY BATTLE: The SUN's Barker wrote the Ravens for years "quietly tried to make the case to the NFL that Baltimore-Washington would function best as a single television market." The Ravens in '10 said that about 12% of their PSL holders "have residences" in DC, Northern Virginia or Montgomery or Prince George's counties in Maryland. Those fans "used to complain that they couldn’t see all of Baltimore's games on TV." The Ravens said that has "been changing." The change "isn't because the TV territories have been shifted." It is because DC TV "has become very Ravens-friendly." But DC "doesn't always like conceding that it's interested in the Ravens." It is "as if some Redskins fans feel they're diluting their allegiance to the home club by following a neighbor." But there is "clearly Ravens interest" in the DC area "and vice-versa" (Baltimore SUN, 5/6).
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