Boston Red Sox’s 2013 World Series MVP David Ortiz and Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star centerfielder Andrew McCutcheon will executive produce the weekly, 30-episode series slated to debut on MTV2 in April 2014. It’s part of a new multi-year, cross-platform programming partnership jointly announced today by MTV and MLB. Shot in New York City from inside the MLB Fan Cave, a space that mixes baseball with music, pop culture, media, interactive technology and art, the new series will move beyond game analysis, stats and highlights to showcase MLB athletes off the field, in addition to celebrity appearances.
“The MLB Fan Cave has been an enormous success in showcasing the personalities of our star players to young fans and intersecting baseball with pop culture,” said Tim Brosnan, Executive Vice President, Business, Major League Baseball. “Being able to partner with MTV on a weekly TV series will give us an opportunity to bring that concept to an even broader audience.” Read More »
The World Series got under way tonight, so Fox International Channels figured it’s a good time to unveil a long-term deal to air MLB games in more than 30 European countries, starting with this year’s Fall Classic. The exclusive, multiplatform pact with Major League Baseball International gives FIC the rights to all MLB games: regular season, playoffs and the All-Star Game and Home Run Derby, along with baseball-related programming from Fox and MLB. Meanwhile, back in the States: Fox likely isn’t thrilled about that 5-0 lead the Red Sox built early and have held against the Cardinals in Game 1 of the Series. Baseball blowouts in primetime don’t exactly enthrall the demo.
File this under “cable confounds broadcast again”: CBS is losing an NFL rivalry game between the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers this Sunday because grounds crews won’t have enough time to convert the O.co Coliseum from a diamond to a gridiron after a baseball playoff game the night before. Major League Baseball didn’t announce the start time for Saturday’s Game 2 of the American League Divisional Series, hosted by the Oakland A’s, until late Monday afternoon. Now the football game has been moved from 1:25 PM PT to 8:25 PT — and from CBS to the NFL Network. With Raiders-Chargers starting in primetime in the West, it should draw a huge number, especially in LA, an NFL-free city where both teams have large fan bases. That can’t be good news for broadcast networks so early in the new TV season or for HBO and Showtime, which have high-profile Sunday dramas Boardwalk Empire and Homeland, respectively. NBC has its regularly scheduled Sunday Night Football game, which should bleed into the start of Raiders-Chargers. NFL Network should send out sympathy cards to rival nets – right after that thank-you note to MLB.
Related: NFL Forcing Orlando TV Viewers To Watch Woeful Jaguars
The last time the island nation’s people were able to see a big league ballgame on free TV, the Cuban Missile Crisis was still a year away. The Associated Press reports that the streak finally was broken this week, but many local fans were disappointed to learn that state television was airing a game from May 2 — with no defected Cuban stars involved. Not even the Miami Marlins. What the communist country’s viewers got on Baseball International was a rather routine 3-1 win for the Washington Nationals over the Atlanta Braves. Featuring Cuban commentators and devoid of commercials, it ran about 90 minutes. And viewers in baseball-mad Cuba apparently reacted with a shrug. “It’s interesting to see how they play, but I can’t say it thrilled me all that much because I don’t know any of the players,” 67-year-old Diego Sierra told the AP. “I would really like to see the Cubans, see how they are developing in that league.” The AP noted that it’s not clear whether Cuba got express written consent from Major League Baseball to show the game. The country routinely airs U.S. TV shows such as Seinfeld and CSI, apparently without compensating American networks. Not even with a cigar.
Few consumers are welcoming the new Los Angeles Dodgers/Time Warner Cable TV deal because they’re going to get screwed out of more hard-earned money per month. They can thank Guggenheim Partners which bought the Dodgers with an ownership group including Magic Johnson and Peter Guber for $2.15 billion last year. Guggenheim plans to carry the games on a new regional sports network it’ll own called SportsNetLA. It’s got Time Warner Cable doing the heavy lifting as its charter distributor, exclusive advertising and affiliate sales agent, and channel operations manager. But now there’s a problem: the January deal has yet even to be submitted to Major League Baseball for approval. The reason is that MLB wants to know exactly what its cut of the $7 billion, 25-year television deal will be. And Guggenheim looks like it’s trying to pitch curveballs to the league. Trust me, if you think Hollywood studios are greedy, you’ve never seen sports team owners or their leagues. So this is greed vs greedier vs greediest.
To summarize what’s in dispute, the current collective bargaining agreement’s base portion of the revenue-sharing plan calls on MLB teams to contribute 34% of net local revenue. But the way that figure gets calculated is becoming increasingly blurred by stuff like these regional sports networks and who owns them. Guggenheim’s deal is even blurrier. So now everything from rights fees, naming rights, guaranteed carriage money, and other revenue expected to go into Guggenheim’s wallet can be picked by MLB’s revenue-sharing plan. That’s the crux … Read More »
Major League Baseball, the NHL, Comcast and DirecTV failed today in their team effort to get an antitrust class action suit against them dismissed in a New York District Court. “Plaintiffs have plausibly alleged that the NHL and MLB have used their monopoly power to restrict the broadcast of television programming in a manner that harms competition,” said the ruling (read it here) from U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin on Wednesday. The ruling means the class action instigated in the spring can go forward. The various plaintiffs claim that the leagues, regional sports networks and the cable and satellite companies have created monopolies over the airing of games on TV and online by dividing up territories and instating blackouts. In a response this summer, the defendants said the plaintiff’s claims were “meritless” and sought to have the case tossed. While the judge rejected the notion that self-proclaimed “middlemen” DirecTV, Comcast and the regional sports networks actively conspired to monopolize individual markets, Sheindlin kept everyone on the hook for their collective actions. “The notion that the exhibition of league games on television and the Internet is clearly a ‘league issue’ is contrary to long-standing precedent that agreements limiting the telecasting of professional sports games are subject to antitrust scrutiny,” Scheindlin wrote in the 53-page ruling.
A conference hearing in New York has been scheduled for December 18.
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Deadline’s Executive Editor David Lieberman talks with host David Bloom in Episode 4 of Deadline Big Media. This week Lieberman discusses how Major League Baseball managed to hit a home run in negotiating renewed rights deals with three networks; Netflix’s very good week with analysts and others; and an analyst report suggesting that, with TV’s booming syndication revenues across many platforms, it’s going to be very difficult and expensive for Apple or any other company to break up how the industry does business.
Deadline Big Media Episode 4 (MP3 format)
Deadline Big Media Episode 4 (M4A format) Read More »
UPDATE, 12:56 PM: The eight-year agreement with Fox Sports Media Group is the second shoe to drop today in Major League Baseball’s renewal deals, following the one we reported earlier with Turner. When you add these agreements with the one that MLB previously struck with ESPN, the league says that it will see a 100% increase in its annual rights fees compared with its current deals. That jibes with earlier leaks about the terms. In the new arrangement, which begins in 2014, Fox will keep the World Series and All-Star Game and share the League Championship Series and Division series with TBS and MLB Network. Fox will be able to broadcast 52 regular season games nationally on Saturdays, up from 26, and Fox can air 12 of them exclusively. The network also agreed to air a weekly 30-minute show created by Major League Baseball Productions. The pacts include TV Everywhere rights. They also end blackouts that prevented subscribers of MLB Extra Innings and MLB.tv from watching Saturday out-of-market games. Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig says that “the unprecedented and historic commitment these networks have made to televising Major League Baseball for years to come is truly amazing.”
The big question now is whether the networks will be able to pass some of the new costs off to pay TV distributors — and, by extension, consumers who might have to pay higher monthly bills. The deals with Fox and Turner will cost $6.8B over the eight years, Sports Business Daily reports. That comes to an average of $525M a year for Fox, and $325M a year for Turner. “The plain truth is that these MLB deals will send monthly pay-TV bills streaking skyward,” says American Cable Association Matthew Polka. “They will make life hard for families whose incomes, hammered by the recession, can’t keep pace with the greed of broadcasters, cable networks and sports leagues. And these MLB deals follow the announcement of equally harmful deals between the National Football League and CBS, NBC, Fox and ESPN worth more than $42 billion.”
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The networks have agreed to extend their current contracts with Major League Baseball to 2021 at about double what they’re paying now, according to media reports. The deals have not been officially announced. If true, though, it means Fox will pay about $4 billion over eight years for its slate of games that includes the World Series and some League Championship Series matchups that it shares with TBS, according to USA Today. TBS parent Turner will play about $2.8 billion over the eight years. The packages are essentially the same, with TBS giving up some first-round playoff games to Fox and its soon-to-be-rebranded Speed channel, Sports Business Daily reports. The publication also says MLB Network could receive some of those early-round games — the League Divisional Series — from Fox. Read More »
The numbers work out to roughly $700 million a year, more than twice the current deal,ESPN has inked an eight-year deal with MLB worth $5.6 billion, according to the Sports Business Journal. The astronomical numbers work out to roughly $700 million per year. If that number seems large – the current deal works out to roughly $306 million per year – it is by design: ESPN absolutely needed to overpay for MLB rights to keep all (or even some) their games from going to NBC. Full details of the MLB rights deal haven’t been revealed, and NBC, Turner, and Fox are still bidding for Fox/TBS packages. Baseball clearly is following the NFL model – give a little bit to everyone so viewers everywhere can devour your product. (The NFL can be found on CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN.)
NBC is expected to get some baseball games, but the fact that ESPN keeps its Sunday, Monday and Wednesday night games is a big win for the network. NBC is attempting to build a rival to ESPN, but is sorely lacking in one department: Content. NBC has Notre Dame football, the NFL, and is coming off an impressive (financially) Olympic games. But that isn’t nearly enough to build a network around. They need games. Two other pertinent details in the ESPN deal: ESPN also will carry one Wild Card … Read More »
A U.S. Bankruptcy judge today set December 7 to kick off a two-day hearing about whether the Los Angeles Dodgers can begin marketing the team’s lucrative future local TV rights, which Fox Sports holds through the end of the 2013 baseball season. Fox already has sued the Dodgers to block any early rights sale. The network claims its regional network has an exclusive window to renegotiate a new deal as part of its current contract, and that that team is using bankruptcy protection to break that agreement. (As part of that lawsuit, Fox will ask Judge Kevin Gross to dismiss the team’s bankruptcy altogether in a hearing set for December 27.) How valuable are those TV rights? Soon-to-be-ex-Dodgers owner Frank McCourt at one time had a $3 billion deal with Fox in place before it was rejected by Major League Baseball and commissioner Bud Selig, forcing McCourt to seek bankruptcy for the team and eventually agree to sell the franchise outright. Read More »
The Los Angeles Dodgers sued Fox Sports on Wednesday, accusing the News Corp-owned network of attempting to ”interfere with the sale of the Dodgers and their assets in bankruptcy.” The Dodgers’ goal is to sell the team and its valuable TV rights through separate court-sanctioned auctions to maximize returns. In a sharply worded court response filed Wednesday night Fox said it would ask that the Dodgers be dismissed from bankruptcy, according to the LA Times. Fox slammed Major League Baseball as “Prime Ticket’s former ally” and asserted the only reason Frank McCourt wants to auction the team’s TV rights now is to put “value rightfully belonging to Prime Ticket,in his own pocket” — referring to Fox Sports’ package of programming. The Dodgers’ suit was filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, where Fox already has a suit pending against the team for alleged breach of contract in the continuing squabble over TV rights. Responding to the latest development, the Dodgers called Fox “obviously desperate” to prevent an auction that would reveal the “enormous value” of those rights and “lead to a record-smashing sale price for the team and benefit not just the Dodgers but all of baseball.” Read More »
If Frank McCourt’s fight to remain owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers seemed long and arduous, it was — after all, he had to fight his ex-wife Jamie with one hand and baseball commissioner Bud Selig with the other. If the end of that fight seemed to come fast and easy, well, it kinda did. Here’s the release from Major League Baseball that came out tonight announcing a deal to sell one of the most popular and lucrative franchises in sports:
“The Los Angeles Dodgers and Major League Baseball announced that they have agreed today to a court supervised process to sell the team and its attendant media rights in a manner designed to realize maximum value for the Dodgers and their owner, Frank McCourt. The Blackstone Group LP will manage the sale process.”
According to the L.A. Times, the sale would include the team, Dodger Stadium and its parking lots, which McCourt paid $421 million for in 2004. McCourt has put the current value of the team at more than $1 billion; Forbes said it is worth $800 million. Any new owner would certainly attract a lucrative TV rights contract — one worth more than the reported 20-year, $3 billion deal McCourt negotiated with current rightsholder Fox Sports that he said would have given him the cash to keep the team. Selig rejected that … Read More »
The Los Angeles Dodgers today asked the judge in their bankruptcy case to let them auction off their local TV rights for the 2014 season and beyond. The team said the sports rights market was “vibrant” now and they wanted to try to cut a deal “to avoid any risk of deterioration in value.” Prior to their bankruptcy filing, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig rejected owner Frank McCourt’s deal with Fox Sports’ Prime Ticket. That blocked a $385M upfront payment on the proposed deal, worth an estimated $3B. Fox still has an exclusive negotiating period with the team set for Oct. 15-Nov. 30 of next year, but the Dodgers maintain the bankruptcy negates it. In its filing in Delaware federal court, the team asked that its 45-day negotiating term with Fox be moved up to this year, followed by 60 days of open bidding. Time Warner Cable, Dish Network and DirecTV might be bidders, the team’s filing said. Any deal would be subject to MLB’s approval. A hearing is set for Oct. 12.
All of Broadway will go dark Saturday and Sunday as Hurricane Irene approaches the East Coast and New York braces for winds, rain and potential flooding during the weekend. It will be the biggest emergency shutdown of the Great White Way since Sept. 11, 2001, and already the city has ordered mandatory evacuations in low-lying areas and will shut down the transit system by noon ET Saturday. Disney Theatrical Productions was the first organization to announce its plans today, saying its productions Mary Poppins and The Lion King wouldn’t run, and the Broadway League followed soon after with its plan. Playbill reports that about 23 productions are affected by the shutdown, including Tony winners War Horse and The Book of Mormon. Major League Baseball also has taken action, postponing a pair of New York Mets weekend games and adjusting scheduled games in Boston and Philadelphia.
The Delaware court that is sorting out the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Chapter 11 filing has authorized the team to enter into a $150 million bankruptcy financing arrangement that will allow owner Frank McCourt to meet the Dodgers’ payroll obligations this week. The deal came together today as Major League Baseball dropped opposition to the financing after getting the Dodgers to agree to not auction off their broadcast TV rights for the next six months and seeing that a $4.5 million fee from the facility’s lender — JPMorgan Chase’s Highbridge Capital Management — be reduced to $250,000.
The TV rights are everything to McCourt now; he says that a deal in place with Fox Sports worth $3 billion over 17 years would put the team back on solid financial ground, but MLB commissioner Bud Selig would not approve the contract, saying too much of the upfront money would go to McCourt, not the franchise. A Dodgers lawyer told Bloomberg today that the team still has the right to propose a TV-rights auction while under court protection, so who knows what the league really gets out of that part of the agreement. One possibility is that Selig and the league will seize the Dodgers within that six-month time frame; baseball clearly believes the Dodgers and their TV rights are worth more on the open market if a new, more palatable owner (we’re talking to you, Mark Cuban) were to step up to … Read More »