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MLB is close to finalizing deals with Fox and Turner that would tie up the league’s media rights through '21. Contracts have not been signed yet, but the sides have agreed on the main points, sources said. Similar to MLB’s ESPN deal, which was signed late last month, Fox and Turner have agreed to eight-year deals worth more than double what the two media companies were paying previously. That means Fox will pay around $4B over eight years (close to $500M per year) and Turner will pay around $2.8B over eight years (more than $300M per year). Including the $700M per year ESPN agreed to pay, MLB’s total haul from media rights will average $1.55B per year over the next eight years, more than double its current take. A formal announcement is expected to come next week. Essentially, Fox and Turner will keep their current packages. That means that Fox will broadcast the World Series and the two will share the LCS. Changes will occur in the LDS, which the two will split. Previously, TBS carried all four LDS. Fox will carry some of the games on its planned all-sports channel, Fox Sports One, which is likely to be a re-branded version of Speed. Sources also say it is possible that Fox will sell some LDS games to MLB Network, which has been looking to increase the amount of playoff games it shows. TBS will carry one Wild Card game; ESPN has the other. Fox will keep its Saturday baseball game, alternating it between the broadcast channel and Fox Sports One. TBS will keep its Sunday afternoon game. During the bidding process, which heated up this summer, NBC and CBS had looked into acquiring a package. And MLB had considered combining the Fox and Turner packages into one before opting to renew both deals (Ourand & Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).
TBS STILL SUPER? In N.Y., Richard Sandomir reports TBS will "get fewer games in its pending deal." TBS is to carry "only 13 Sunday afternoon games under the new contract, down from 26." The net also has "gotten extensive new digital rights that will help its newly acquired Bleacher Report site." Also, its Sunday games "will no longer be blacked out in the markets of the two teams that are playing" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/20). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Matthew Futterman notes, "During the past two years, the major sports organizations, popular teams and even college football conferences have been able to garner 60% to 100% increases in the guaranteed revenues they receive from media companies" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/20).
Time Warner Cable SportsNet yesterday announced its studio programming beginning with its Oct. 1 launch. “Access SportsNet” is the RSN’s daily studio show and will feature branded pre- and post-game shows for the Lakers and MLS Galaxy. There also will be a daily live social media-driven show called “#LakeShow.” The lineup for the net’s Spanish-language station, Time Warner Cable Deportes, will include “Lakers En Vivo,” a live, one-hour pregame show; “Somos Lakers,” the postgame wrap-up show; “Somos Lakers Éne-Bé-A,” which airs on non-game days; “Lakers Compactos,” which will consist of Lakers games condensed into a one-hour format; and “Partidos Memorables: Lakers,” classic Lakers games accompanied by Spanish commentary (TWC SportsNet).
LAUNCHING PAD: The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER’s George Szalai noted TWC President & COO Rob Marcus “touted the upcoming launch of the company's new sports network in LA with LA Lakers games in about two weeks.” Marcus said expectations are at a "fever pitch." He added, "We feel pretty confident that we have a good deal here." Marcus said sports rights fees minus the carriage fee and advertising revenue "should get the company to a financial model that is stronger than ‘the amount we would have paid for a third-party network.’” Marcus argued that if that is not the case, the company will still hold an “advantage over other TV distributors” (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 9/19). Marcus said that if distributors do not sign up to carry TWC's L.A. RSNs when they launch Oct. 1, that will "just give the MSO a competitive advantage.” Marcus said that if multichannel video programming distributors “do take the net, TWC expects to come out ahead of how much it would have spent on 3rd party rights to the Lakers and Galaxy.” Marcus: “If you add to all that financial analysis the value of associating with what I think is the best brand in the L.A. market ... the impact that it has on the image and brand of Time Warner Cable is just the icing on the cake” (CABLEFAX DAILY, 9/20). When asked whether L.A. can support five RSNs, TWC Sports Regional Networks Senior VP & GM Mark Shuken said, “That’s going to be up to the distributors and their fans. … It’s a question not so much of is there space for a certain number of regional sports networks, but in the overall economics of pay television: Where do you invest and what’s primary to that customer?” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 9/17 issue).
NFL Digital Media tonight will introduce its new second-screen mobile experience "Thursday Night Football Xtra," designed to tie into the NFL Network's coverage of Thursday night games. Slated to be available for the iPhone, iPad and Verizon Android users, the application includes live, in-game sideline commentary from Solomon Wilcots for tablet users, social media integration, behind-the-scenes video, an interactive game in which users predict upcoming plays, trivia contests and other material. State Farm has signed on as an initial advertiser. "We want to bring our viewers closer to the game, and take full advantage of all the prevailing industry and behavioral trends around mobile device usage while watching a game," said NFL Mobile GM Manish Jha. For Apple iOS users, "Thursday Night Football Xtra" will be available through the league's primary mobile application, "NFL '12," while existing primarily as a stand-alone product for the Android platform.