As anticipated, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Time Warner Cable today announced a new regional sports network with the working name of SportsNet LA that will launch at the beginning of the 2014 Major League Baseball season. In addition to being the exclusive local home for all of the Dodger games, SportsNet LA will provide comprehensive behind-the-scenes Dodger programming, featuring more insights, analysis and commentary. The landmark agreement is worth a reported $7-$8 billion, making it the most lucrative RSN launch in MLB history. The agreement with TWC is subject to certain closing conditions.
The deal has not yet been approved by Major League Baseball over concerns involving a capped amount of revenue-sharing attached to the deal. That issue surfaced as part of the bankruptcy process when Frank McCourt formerly owned the club. It is not believed that the current state of MLB not approving the deal will scuttle it entirely, but without league approval, the possibility of some structural contract changes could come about to address concerns.
Time Warner Cable (TWC) has agreed to be SportsNet LA’s charter distributor, and will carry the new network for its customers throughout Southern California and Hawaii under a long-term affiliation deal. In addition, in return for agreeing to make payments over the life of the deal, TWC will be the exclusive advertising and affiliate sales agent for the new network and will have certain branding and programing rights with respect to the network, and therefore, will guarantee subscription fees. TWC will also provide certain non-game production and technical services to American Media Productions, LLC (AMP), the arm of the Dodgers ownership that was created to launch the RSN.
Mark Walter, Chairman of the Los Angeles Dodgers, said, “We concluded last year that the best way to give our fans what they want - more content and more Dodger baseball - was to launch our own network. The creation of AMP will provide substantial financial resources over the coming years for the Dodgers to build on their storied legacy and bring a World Championship home to Los Angeles. Just as we are actively transforming the team and the stadium, we want the Dodgers to be exhibited on the very best sports network in the country - one that will provide an unrivaled fan experience.”
Todd Boehly, a principal owner of AMP, said, “We are greatly pleased that Time Warner Cable, the largest distributor in the marketplace, has come aboard to support the Dodgers and SportsNet LA as our charter distributor. Their presence in Los Angeles will be invaluable in helping us serve Dodger fans and our community with excellence.”
“We are delighted to support the Dodgers and their ownership group in their launch of SportsNet LA. The Dodgers have one of the most passionate and loyal audiences in sports, and we look forward to helping deliver this new network to their fans,” said David Rone, President of Time Warner Cable Sports. “This deal, like our Lakers’ deal, furthers our efforts to attain greater certainty and control over local and regional sports programming costs.”
“The launch of the new regional sports network is a historic development for the Dodgers and our passionate fans,” said Stan Kasten, CEO of the Los Angeles Dodgers. “Our commitment from day one has been to build the Dodgers into the best team possible, both on and off the field. Our fans deserve the best - the best players, the best baseball, and the best experience - whether that’s at the newly renovated Dodger Stadium or on television.”
“Our mission is to have the most fan-friendly sports programming, and we welcome ideas and suggestions from our Dodger Community. We look forward to sharing updates with fans in the coming months. In the meantime, we remain very excited about the upcoming 2013 season where we will be showcasing our incredible new roster and the many enhancements to Dodger Stadium, as well as continuing our commitment to broadcast excellence with our current partners Fox Sports and KCAL 9.”
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).
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