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CSN California Retains Kings' TV Rights as Team Remains in Sacramento

Club's Contract with RSN Expires after 2013-14 Season: Sources 5/17/2013 6:24 PM Eastern

With a local-based group succeeding in its bid to keep the National Basketball Association Kings in Sacramento, Comcast SportsNet California will retain the TV rights to the club – at least for the near term.

The deal, under which the Maloof family has agreed to sell a 65% share in the Kings to a group led by TIBCO software owner Vivek Ranadive, is expected to be officially approved by the NBA next week. CSN California has a 10-year rights deal with the Kings that will transfer with the club, but expires at the end of the 2013-14 season, according to sources familiar with the agreement.

CSN California declined comment.

Had a group led by hedge fund investor Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer succeeded with its bid to relocate the Kings to Seattle, the club's TV rights would have been open for bidding, according to the sources.

According to published reports, the deal values the Kings franchise at $535 million and will give the Maloofs and their partner Bob Hernreich around $347 million.

The agreement followed a 22-8 vote at NBA Board of Governors meeting in Dallas on Wednesday that rejected the Maloofs' plans to sell their share of the team to Hansen and  Ballmer for $406 million. They wanted to relocate the team to the Emerald City, which lost the Sonics after the 2007-08 season, when the club moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder.

NBA commissioner David Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver, who will assume the league's leadership on Feb. 1 when his boss retires, have indicated that while there is expansion consideration, it won’t occur until after new national TV contracts are set. While the current deals with ESPN/ABC and Turner Sports don't conclude until after the 2015-16, Sports Business Journal reports that informal negotiations may tip off this summer.

ESPN president John Skipper, speaking to reporters after the worldwide leader’s upfront presentation in New York on May 14, described the  NBA as "core and key product for us, the league is ascendant. The interest in the NBA during our tenure is at an all-time high; the ratings are kind of back to [Michael] Jordan levels." However, he doesn't think rights “discussions are about to embark.”