Jan 22

Analyzing the Dodgers-Time Warner Cable deal

Here’s my Variety analysis of the imminent deal between the Dodgers and Time Warner Cable that will create a new network dedicated to the Big Blue Wrecking Crew.

By partnering to launch a new regional cable network in an overflowing market rather than making a straightforward rights deal, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Time Warner Cable have doubled down on their belief that skyrocketing revenues in the sports TV world are anything but a bubble.

The Dodgers could have simply sold their post-2013 cable rights to Time Warner Cable Sports Net’s English and Spanish components — joining a pair of networks that only launched less than four months ago — or to current host Fox Sports Net. Either way, the Dodgers could have counted on getting $6 billion or more over the next 20-25 years (triple the price that Guggenheim Partners paid for the entire team in March), with no need to worry about the future health of sports TV revenue.

For its part, Time Warner Cable could have said that two new networks were enough and held fast against launching any more into a market that some believe has plenty, thank you.

Instead, according to sources commenting on a deal that has yet to be officially announced, the Dodgers will draw a still healthy commitment from Time Warner Cable that comes with the heightened risk/reward scenario of an ownership stake. …

Read the rest of the story here

Apr 22

How much would you pay to watch the Dodgers on TV?

Below are four questions for an unscientific survey on how much you would pay to see the Dodgers on TV, if the games weren’t part of an overall TV package.

Note: If the Dodgers aren’t your favorite team, obviously feel free to take the poll by applying the questions to your favorite team.

Question 1:


Question 2:

Question 3:

Question 4:

Dec 08

TV rights ruling means more for Fox than it does for Dodgers

So, today’s federal bankruptcy court ruling in favor of the Dodgers against Fox, allowing the Dodgers to accelerate the sale of their post-2013 TV rights, doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things for Dodger fans. Ultimately, the Dodgers will get what they can get for the rights, whether it comes from Fox or Time Warner Cable. (Here’s more in my latest Variety story.)

I’m going to be perfectly honest with you.  I’m not predisposed to have any sympathy for Fox, but I have tried over and over again to wrap my head around today’s decision and I haven’t figured out how it helps the Dodgers’ maximize their sale value, and therefore why it served the court any purpose to nullify Fox’s right to keep exclusivity on the Dodgers’ post-2013 rights until next fall.

McCourt can’t negotiate a binding deal with Fox before the sale, so there’s no incentive for Fox to make a real offer. Any valuations of the Dodgers’ TV rights that come before the team is sold will more accurately come from independent sources.

But like I said, whatever damage is done by today’s ruling is done to Fox, not the Dodgers or their fans.

However, something else is brewing that I think could be more significant. Fox is preparing to argue that Time Warner Cable is legally prohibited from getting into a deal for the Dodgers. If Fox prevailed, that could potentially lower the Dodgers’ future TV revenue if it reduces Time Warner Cable’s viability as a bidder.

Here’s what Bill Shaikin wrote in the Times:

… Under a previously undisclosed provision, the contract also hampers the Dodgers’ ability to form a regional sports network after the contract expires so long as Time Warner , Comcast or ESPN is an equity partner, according to the people familiar with the agreement.

Dodgers owner Frank McCourt had wanted to launch his own cable channel — dubbed “DTV: Dodger Television” — once the Fox contract expired in 2013, according to documents filed in his divorce trial. Fox would have had no recourse had McCourt partnered with any party beyond Time Warner, Comcast or ESPN.

The contract would not absolutely prohibit those Fox competitors from partnering in some form in a Dodgers cable channel, but what could be costly hurdles would in theory give the team an incentive to stick with Fox. …

Will Fox prevail in this dispute? That I don’t know.