TWC SportsChannel's Xavier Hoops Carriage Could Be Precursor To Reds TV Rights Bid
Time Warner Cable's SportsChannel carrying five Xavier Univ. men's basketball games this season could be a "precursor to the New York-based media giant vying to become a major player in the Cincinnati sports TV scene and bidding against Fox Sports Ohio" for rights to Reds games, according to sources cited by Steve Watkins of the CINCINNATI BUSINESS COURIER. The Xavier games represent the "highest-profile programming Time Warner has carried on its SportsChannel, which launched in Cincinnati last fall." FS Ohio currently holds TV rights for the Reds, Xavier and Univ. of Cincinnati basketball, but any of those "could be fair game for Time Warner once the contract come up for bid within a few years." Fox' contract with the Reds reportedly pays the team $30M per year, but sources said that it could "rise as high as" $75M when the deal expires in '16. The sources added that it is "possible the deal could be reopened sooner." Desser Sports Media President Ed Desser said, "Time Warner recognized what's considered must-have content, and Reds baseball would be included in that, and their view is to buy that directly. I presume they'd be interested, given the relative strength of the Reds" (CINCINNATI BUSINESS COURIER, 2/15 issue).