Tune In: Royals Baseball On TV (Sometimes) — [UPDATE]


Sep 5, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer (35) is safe at home in the seventh inning of the game against the Seattle Mariners at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals won 7-6. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

This is as exciting a year of baseball as we’ve seen in Kansas City recently. For many of you, this might be the first good team you’ve seen. The 2003 squad won some games, even had a lead in the division for a while, but they weren’t really good. You’d have to go back to 1994 or 1995 to find a team with some talent on it top to bottom.

There are sixteen games left in the season, but only ten are going to be carried on the Royals broadcast partner, Fox Sports Kansas City.

Every year, the Royals TV contract calls for them to have 140 games broadcast on FSKC. That contract was signed in 2008, well before the current boom. They get $20 million a year for letting FSKC show their games. Up until this year, September hasn’t been a very interesting time. With the Royals 2.5 games out of the wild card spot, though, fans are going to have to go searching for a broadcast source.

As it stands now, FSKC will consider adding weekend games to their schedule, but there isn’t a plan to show these games.

Contractually, I understand that their hands may be tied. There are other deals that they have to hold up for September broadcasts that had been agreed to well in advance. They need to have cameramen, producers, on-air talent, and other staffing on site for additional games and that may conflict with other broadcasts. It’s likely a logistical nightmare.

But it’s worth it to FSKC to find a way through the maze.

The Royals are drawing record numbers on the station. In 2013, ratings are up 69 percent for Royals telecasts relative to last year. The top five games of the year are all from 2013 – in fact all from August 2013:

Highest-rated Royals games on FOX Sports Kansas City

RankRating  Date  Game
1.12.38/13/13vs. Miami
2.11.48/8/13vs. Boston
3.11.28/12/13vs. Miami
2.10.28/5/13vs. Minnesota
5.10.18/28/13at Minnesota

Ratings mean ad dollars, and these games have been some of the biggest prime time draws in Kansas City this season.

Back in 2003, the Royals started the season with a deal through the Royals Sports Television Network and worked out deals with Time Warner Cable and other local cable companies in the region that would broadcast 100 Royals games. By June, they had seen some success on the field and it compelled Fox Sports to add RSTN. A few games were also added at that time to make it 114 total games broadcast.

So there’s a bit of a precedent here, though the late part of baseball season and the early part of college football’s season complicates everything and makes for fewer slots to add games. But it can still be done.

This weekend in the Kansas City area, while the Royals play Detroit, FSKC will broadcast Lamar at Oklahoma State. Sunday afternoon, they’ll show a replay of Virginia Tech at East Carolina. There isn’t a way to find a spot for one of those Royals games? The crew will already be in Detroit for Friday night’s game.

There will be alternatives. Saturday’s game will be on MLB Network. Sunday’s will be on TBS, so fans can still see the games, but those who may not have access to either are out of luck. MLB’s blackout rules are ridiculous, so MLB.tv isn’t a realistic option for anyone in the area.

It’s possible that the Royals will be playing on the last day of the season in Chicago with a chance to land in the postseason for the first time since the Reagan administration.

All we ask is that we get to see it on our local station.

UPDATE: Friday morning, FSKC announced that they will pick up the broadcasts for the 9/22 game against Texas as well as the final two games of the year in Chicago.