MLB has "major concerns" about the Dodgers' record new TV deal, and "unless an agreement can be reached within a few months, their differences may have to be resolved in federal court," according to a source cited by Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. The source said that the dispute is "focused on the revenue-sharing implications of the Dodgers' deal with Time Warner Cable that guarantees them at least" $7B over 25 years. When the Dodgers emerged from bankruptcy in April, their agreement "stipulated the club's fair-market TV value would be set" at $84M a year, with 4% increases each season. MLB teams with high revenues are "required to share 34% of their local TV rights with low-revenue teams." But the deal would provide the Dodgers "roughly" $280M annually, leaving some $196M "not subject to revenue sharing at the outset of the contract." MLB argues that the Dodgers "won't be taking a significant risk since Time Warner Cable is guaranteeing" $7B. TWC announced its plans to "be the exclusive advertising affiliate sales network of the channel, vowing to cover affiliate fees from distributors who refuse to carry the channel." If an agreement "can't be reached on an interpretation of the new fair-market value, the two sides could return to the bankruptcy court in Delaware" (USA TODAY, 1/29).
COVERING ALL THE BASES: In L.A., Bill Shaikin noted the Dodgers -- not TWC -- will "program the new channel." TWC execs said that they believed the SportsNet L.A. name "would be distinctive enough from the Time Warner Cable Sportsnet name given to the new Lakers channel." The Dodgers deal "does not include a separate Spanish-language channel." For TWC, the rationale for the Dodgers deal is "similar to the rationale for the Lakers deal -- pay a lot to cut out the middle man and secure access to a popular team for decades." However, TWC Exec VP and Chief Video & Content Officer Melinda Witmer said that there is "no guarantee the company will make money on the Dodgers deal" (LATIMES.com, 1/28). In N.Y., Richard Sandomir writes the Dodgers’ deal "shows a company simultaneously at work in two roles: Time Warner is the largest cable television operator in Southern California and a regional sports network creator." In its first role, it "wants to avoid, if it can, going through a middleman to buy the rights to marquee sports teams." By creating a network to showcase the Dodgers, it "can guarantee that all of its subscribers get that network, while also extracting steep subscriber fees from AT&T, Verizon, Cox, Charter, DirecTV and Dish Network" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/29).
CBS for Super Bowl XLVII has "firmly approached its streaming efforts as a complement, or second-screen enhancement, of the telecast," according to George Winslow of BROADCASTING & CABLE. CBSSports.com Senior VP & GM Jason Kint said, "For the most part, everyone finds a way to be in front of the big screen, and the center of attention is that beautiful flat screen experience. So from that, we focused on how we could build the ultimate companion second-screen experience." Winslow notes many of the "most notable features of the stream and coverage on CBSSports.com are designed to augment TV viewing, with social media feeds, stats, expert commentary, DVR features for replays, a gallery where commercials can be viewed right after they air and four additional camera angles to accompany the broadcast feeds." Kint added that for the first time, one of those camera angles will "be determined by polls and the producers, bringing a new level of interactivity into the coverage." In addition, CBS will be "streaming the halftime show for the first time." Like NBC did last year, CBS has sold advertising on the online stream "separately from the broadcast feed, but many of the same broadcasters are on [both] platforms" (BROADCASTING & CABLE, 1/28 issue). AD WEEK's Sam Thielman cited media buyers as estimating that CBS will make between $10M-12M for "the second screen all by itself -- not much compared to the Bowl proper, but a huge bump up from" the estimated $2M that NBC made on its second-screen advertising last year. The ad load for the second-screen app will "be completely different from the famously pricey spots for the main event." Kint said, "None of it was added value; all the second-screen ads were sold separately. You'll see a lot of the same advertisers and creative, but it's a different schedule." Thielman noted the one venue CBS "doesn't have the right to broadcast is on the most ubiquitous second screen around: the smartphone." Those rights "sit with the NFL," which has "joined forces with Verizon to stream the game to smartphones for a $5 pay-per-view fee" (ADWEEK.com, 1/28).
The Indians have signed a five-year extension with WTAM-AM that will see the station “broadcast all regular season Tribe games,” according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. WTAM will air 15 Spring Training games annually and will “distribute all games to the 26 stations on the Indians radio network throughout Ohio and Pennsylvania.” WTAM has broadcast Indians games since ’98. As part of the deal, WMMS-FM will “simulcast an estimated 144 of its games per season over the length of the contract.” Announcers Tom Hamilton and Jim Rosenhaus will remain with the club. Rosenhaus has signed a multiyear deal with the Indians following his first full year as Hamilton’s on-air partner. Hamilton, who enters his 24th season in the booth, “was already under a long-term deal” (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 1/29).
ROOT OF THE PROBLEM: In Pittsburgh, Gene Collier noted there is “no significant increase in money ... flowing from Root Sports to the Pirates” for the team’s TV deal, which is in “just the fourth year of a 10-year deal that brings in" around $20M annually. It is “evident that something ought to be done about what industry insiders know is a terrible deal for the Pirates, aka a great deal for Root Sports.” Collier wrote Pirates Chair Bob Nutting “should walk down the street and offer a 20- or 25-year commitment in exchange for a drastic upward adjustment in compensation for the ballclub.” The Pirates, for “all their pratfalls, get good-to-great ratings for Root.” If the Pirates “went away, in fact, Root Sports in Pittsburgh would ... be screwed.” Root Sports “ought to jump at the chance to continue a very lucrative partnership that can sustain its own synergies through the next quarter century” (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 1/27).
Comcast SportsNet Chicago earned a 6.31 local rating for Sunday's Blackhawks-Red Wings game, marking the net's highest ever Blackhawks regular-season rating. That figure passes the previous record set just five days earlier for the Blackhawks home opener against the Blues on Jan. 22, which earned a 5.40 rating (CSN Chicago). Meanwhile, Rogers Sportsnet on Sunday recorded its largest audience ever for a Senators regional broadcast with an average of 441,000 viewers tuning in for the game against the Penguins. The audience passes the Senators' previous record audience of 335,000 viewers for a game against the Maple Leafs on Jan. 17, 2012. The record audience also is 72% above the current season Senators audience average of 257,000 (Sportsnet). TOUGH TO SAY GOODBYE: In St. Louis, Don Reed notes coverage of the funeral for late Baseball HOFer Stan Musial on Saturday "did not translate into huge television ratings." The proceedings were shown "live on five local TV outlets, but the combined rating (12.7) was less than the number many marquee Cardinals regular-season games draw and even fell short of the lowest-rated Rams game (14.5) last year." Another "twist -- none of the individual stations that carried the services beat the 6.4 rating the Pro Bowl generated locally Sunday night" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/29).
HANG TEN: L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke said the “competing” by the players in the NFL Pro Bowl was "enough for another solid TV rating.” Plaschke: “You know as many people watch the Pro Bowl as watch baseball’s World Series. So we all complain about it, (Roger) Goodell complains about it and says they need to play harder, but people watch the game” ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 1/28). ESPN's Eamon McAnaney said, “As long as the network is going to show it the NFL is going to play” (“The Wheelhouse,” SportsNet N.Y., 1/28).
KAY WILL STAY: YES Network announced broadcaster Michael Kay has signed a multiyear extension with the net to remain its lead Yankees play-by-play voice. Kay joined YES in '02 (YES). NBCSPORTS.com's Craig Calcaterra wrote, "I know some people like to nitpick him, but (a) just about every broadcaster can be nitpicked; and (b) Kay, even if he isn't your cup of tea, has always seemed pretty solid to me." The key is "whether someone is actively assaulting," and Kay "is not that" (NBCSPORTS.com, 1/28).