SBJ/June 3-9, 2013/Media

NBC Sports Group and Fox Sports involved as MLB tries to work toward MASN solution

Major League Baseball has had talks with NBC Sports Group and Fox Sports in recent weeks to try to craft a solution to its MASN dispute, according to several sources.

MLB hired Steve Greenberg of Allen & Co. to try to broker such a deal, which could see NBC or Fox acquire all or part of the regional sports network that carries Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals games.

Though talks with Fox and NBC have occurred in recent weeks, it’s hard to tell how receptive Orioles owner Peter Angelos is to cutting a deal. Angelos, who also owns the majority of MASN, has final say on a deal and so far has been unwilling to entertain offers. When contacted last week, the Orioles had no comment.

MLB had reached out to both NBC and Fox several months ago about MASN, but those talks did not progress and talks were believed to be dead.

MLB hired Steve Greenberg of Allen & Co. to try to broker a deal for MASN, which carries Washington Nationals games.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
The dispute over how high the Nationals’ rights fees should be has been in front of MLB for more than a year. The Nationals believe they should be paid as much as $120 million a year given recent Fox Sports Net deals with the Rangers (20 years, $3 billion) and Padres (20 years, $1.2 billion).

MASN has countered with a $35 million-a-year offer that represents a 20 percent jump from the Nationals’ current rights fee of $29 million. MASN’s contract contains a “parity clause” that requires the Orioles to receive exactly as much in rights fees as the Nationals.

Neither MASN nor the Nationals have been willing to budge from their position, leaving MLB to try to figure out a solution. MLB hired noted dealmaker Greenberg late last year to see whether he could help work out an agreement.

NBC Sports Group obviously is interested. It already operates a regional sports network in the area — Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic — that carries the NBA’s Wizards and NHL’s Capitals. On occasion, CSN splits its feed, offering one for Washington, D.C., and a separate one for Baltimore.

Fox Sports Net also is interested. In the past year, it bought all or part of the RSNs covering the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees. Fox would not shy away from an RSN that covers a major media market like Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

So far, talks have looked at the possibility of buying MASN2 from the Orioles and establishing a Washington-based channel with Nationals games. Talks also have looked at buying the whole RSN, which would include the Orioles.

The Nationals hold a 13 percent equity stake in MASN, adding 1 percentage point annually until it peaks at 33 percent. Angelos owns the rest.

Staff writer Eric Fisher contributed to this report.

Return to top

Related Topics:

Media

Video Powered By - Castfire CMS Powered By - Sitecore

Report a Bug