Thursday, March 31, 2005

TV Or Not TV. That Was The Question

Enter the tastefully, if not unoriginallly named Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN). The deal hasn't been signed, but both the Post and Times are reporting it's imminent.

Eric Fisher says that the network:
likely would be under the majority control of the Orioles and act as the primary TV home of both clubs. The network also would oversee the distribution of both teams' games through cable and satellite carriers and strike deals with local, over-the-air TV stations like the Nationals' impending agreement with WDCA and WTTG.

The Nationals would receive a rights fee from the regional sports network in the tentative pact, estimated at $20Â million to $30Â million a year, forming the team's second-largest single revenue source. An equity stake also is being pegged to go to the Nationals.

I don't like the idea of Angelos having much control over the Nationals broadcasting, but if the Nationals really are partners in this and can reap some of the revenues from the station outside the rights to air games, it might not be a horrible deal.

Despite the apparent agreement, there's still a major problem: how are local cable stations going to clear space for the new channel by the time the season starts?

I was reminded, and the Post mentioned, of Minnesota's attempt last year to do the same thing. Their team-owned Victory Sports Network went to hell quickly, because no cable outlets cleared space at the rates VSN wanted to charge. VSN lasted a month, before they folded and sold their rights to the local Fox Sports affiliate. But, in the meantime, Twins fans were prevented from seeing their team's games.

Here, something similar has the potential of happening. Right now, Comcast SportsNet runs the Orioles, and has their contract through 2007. How eager is Comcast going to be to clear space for a channel that's taking rights away from them and, in effect, killing their own channel?

Comcast doesn't have the history of that that Jim Dolan and Cablevision do in NY, where anytime they lose rights to another station or network, that station or network doesn't get aired, mysteriously. (Today's a good example of his kind of thuggery)

I don't think that Comcast will resort to that, but it is a potential problem for this year, and for coming years.

In the meantime, there's always the radio!

3 Comments:

  • Yes, there is always the radio, and sometimes it is even better than TV.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/31/2005 7:06 PM  

  • Angelos won, Selig rolled over and now the Nats' tv is controlled by Angelos - does anybody else think this is wrong?

    By Anonymous redslegacy, at 3/31/2005 7:51 PM  

  • Well, I don't know. Boz has a column dismissing the notion that Angelos swept the rug, but (and I haven't read it that closely), but I think Boz's calculations don't take into account that the Nats' stake in the network is progressive, up to 1/3 in 20 years.

    That said, I just about puked when I saw this morning that Angelos will own 90% of MASN. Then again, he assumes 100% of the risk and guarantees ~ $20M/season to the Nats, which is a competitive figure. Then again, it's only a competitive figure vs. the league, not in context of DC's market size.

    So . . . I don't know.

    By Blogger Basil, at 4/01/2005 9:38 AM  

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