Time Warner Cable is evidently two for two in snatching coverage of high-profile teams in Los Angeles from News Corp.
According to multiple reports, the nation’s No. 2 MSO has reached a deal with the Dodgers to broadcast the Major League Baseball team’s regional games.
Bloomberg, citing two people familiar with the negotiations, said Dodgers’ games will be televised on a new regional sports network developed by Guggenheim Partners, which purchased the club last year for some $2.15 billion. Some reports indicate Time Warner Cable will be a partner in the service, but won’t own the TV rights per se. Sources familiar with the negotiations indicate, however, that if TWC holds an equity position in the network or were involved in a traditional rights deal, Fox has matching options and could pursue legal actions.
Whatever the structure, the deal is expected to be announced on Thursday.
Time Warner Cable declined to comment on the matter Tuesday morning. Fox declined comment. A Dodgers media rep had "no information" about the proceedings.
Fox Sports has held the Dodgers rights since 1997. Its Prime Ticket RSN, whose exclusive negotiating window with the club ended last November, will carry the team’s games during the 2013 season. The programmer had been talking about a 25-year deal worth more than $6 billion. Reports have put the Dodgers-TWC agreement in the $7 billion range.
The MSO, after paying some $3 billion for the rights over a 20-year span (some maintain the deal is for $5 billion over a quarter century), has launched a pair of RSNs orbiting the Los Angeles Lakers, Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes; the latter is the nation’s first dedicated Spanish-language RSN. FS West and KCAL-TV were the Lakers’ longtime telecast partners.
With the addition of the new service, the greater Los Angeles area would become home to seven RSNs -- the dedicated Dodgers' RSN; the Lakers’ pair; FS West (the Los Angels of Anaheim and the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings); Prime Ticket (Los Angeles Clippers and Anaheim Ducks); the Pac-12 national service; and its UCLA/USC sub-regional.
Before 2012, the two Fox RSNs -- for a combined monthly subscriber fee of around $5 -- basically offered much of the sports programming that is now being diffused across these varied services. That price has risen significantly and no doubt will escalate again when the Dodgers' channel takes its first cuts in the marketplace.