MLB Whiffs Fox's Proposed $3 Billion Dodgers Rights Deal - Multichannel

MLB Whiffs Fox's Proposed $3 Billion Dodgers Rights Deal

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Major League Baseball has struck out a proposed TV deal between Fox and the Los Angeles Dodgers and a divorce settlement between the club's owner and his ex-wife to boot.

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig on June 20 nixed a 17-year deal with Fox that could have provided significant funding to help operate the financially troubled team. 

According to McCourt, the Fox deal, which would have superseded the final three years of the team's current rights deal with regional sports network Prime Ticket and extended it through the 2027 campaign, was valued at more than $3 billion over its term. MLB executives reportedly valued it at $1.7 billion. A source pegged the deal, which included a provision for McCourt to garner a 35% stake in Prime Ticket, in excess of $2.7 billion.

Fox declined to comment on the situation. 

The pact called for some $385 million in upfront allocations, but according to last week's divorce settlement, $173.5 million would have been earmarked for the proceedings between McCourt and his ex-wife Jamie. That would have left $211.5 million for team operations, an amount MLB deemed to be insufficient. McCourt has struggled to meet payroll, and may need the funds to help meet his June 30 obligations.

McCourt has blamed Selig's refusal to approve the deal as a reason he fears MLB will seize the team. In April, MLB took control of the franchise and installed a trustee to operate. An attorney for McCourt said they will explore options and remedies relative to Selig's deal denial. 

Earlier this year, Fox lent McCourt $30 million, a move that was reportedly prompted by Time Warner Cable looking to extend the same amount, to help him keep the Dodgers afloat.

Tipping off with the 2012-13 season, Time Warner Cable has media rights to the National Basketball Association's Los Angeles Lakers, which have been held in part by RSN Fox Sports West. In building a pair of channels centering around the Lakers -- there also will be a Spanish-language version -- Time Warner Cable will pay the hoops team some $3 billion over 20 years. Those RSNs would benefit from the addition of the summer time programming afforded and the GRPs generated by the Dodgers.

A bidding war between the parties could potentially lift the rights for the MLB team.

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