CBS is ready to renew deal with U.S. Open Talk of warming trend in relations gets cool reception NFL, partners push Back to Football Super sales for NFL and Fox Is football the next Farmville? Paciolan, StubHub launch ticket partnership PGA Tour adds women’s, youth apparel licensees UFC gets ex-NBA exec to lead Far East push Diverse cast vies for NASCAR ride on BET show No Headline
SBJ/20100419/This Week's News
MLBAM’s deal with players includes image rights
Published April 19, 2010
MLB Advanced Media last year struck a new interactive rights agreement with the MLB Players Association, ending an extended period of uncertainty stemming from their collective legal defeats in the CDM Fantasy Sports case.
The multiyear pact, worth roughly $2 million a year, is reflected in the union’s annual LM-2 filing with the U.S. Department of Labor for calendar year 2009 (April 12-18, SBJ). Baseball’s interactive arm sent the union a check for $1.875 million last November to cover a large portion of 2009.
The deal includes a batch of interactive rights, including group rights to player likenesses and the hosting of the union’s Web site, MLBPlayers.com, that were part of an earlier agreement between the parties, reached in 2005. Their current pact, however, does not address fantasy baseball.
“While the landscape has changed, we greatly value our partnership with the players and hope it continues well into the future,” said Bob Bowman, MLBAM president and chief executive.
The five-year interactive deal between MLBAM and the players union in 2005 was estimated to be worth more than $50 million and aimed in part to create a new digital sublicensing structure around baseball fantasy games. That effort, however, soon fizzled as St. Louis-based CDM Fantasy Sports, now part of Fanball.com, successfully challenged MLBAM and the union. Courts at both the district and appellate levels ruled that player names and statistics, representing the core of fantasy baseball, were part of the public domain and not commercially protected. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case in 2008.
MLBAM stopped paying the union under that original deal in late 2007. Because of that, MLBAM is listed in the union’s accounts receivable section of the LM-2 report with a total of $10.96 million, following a similar listing of $9 million for calendar year 2008.
Union executives declined to comment on the new MLBAM deal.