This week, MLB officials met with the MLB Players Association to discuss logistics on having a season in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. The tone exiting the gathering was one of disappointment for player-reps and frustration for owners.

While other leagues like the NBA avoided compensation disputes becoming headlines, the same is not true for America's pastime. Why?

Empty seats in a baseball stadium

Image source: Getty Images.

The problem

The NBA generates 60% of revenue from broadcasting. Baseball leans more on ticket and concession revenue, generating only 50% of sales from TV. In a business of very large numbers, a 10% gap is significant.

Complicating things further, baseball organizations run anywhere from six to nine minor league teams, which depend solely on ticket and concession sales. Conversely, the NBA's only minor league affiliate is the Gatorade Leagues (G-League). 

What baseball players see as unfair pay cuts, organizations see as generosity during a financially difficult season. Players want more regardless; that's not changing. If a baseball season does not happen, other sports returning should benefit.

Where to focus

Entertainment companies like Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) have sporting content returning, but Disney also owns ESPN and 60% of Fox, both of which own MLB television rights. The companies with exposure to different sports are ViacomCBS (NASDAQ: VIAC) with the PGA and AT&T (NYSE:T) with the NBA.

Both of those trade at steep valuation discounts to the market and Disney, and both have the ideal kind of baseball-less exposure. If the MLB is unable to return, this is where I plan to focus.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.