This could come as a helmet to the ribs of the uber-lucrative NFL broadcasting-streaming game and the notion of sponsorship vs. rights deals. Not to mention possibly expanding the broader sports world’s ever-growing “TV everywhere” game plan. Verizon today finalized a $1B extension of its deal with America’s dominant sports league that – beginning with the 2014 season — will allow streaming of all CBS and Fox in-market Sunday afternoon games to mobile phones (regular blackout rules apply). Not only that, but the deal comprises all NFL playoff games, including the Super Bowl. The four-year agreement expands Verizon’s current NFL Mobile package, which gives access only to games on airing on NBC, ESPN and the NFL Network – read Monday, Sunday, and Thursday night football – along with the league-owned NFL Network and its NFL RedZone.
Related: David Berson Named CBS Sports President
Verizon’s billion (with-a-B)-dollar deal makes the wireless giant one of the NFL’s biggest business partners outside of its media-rights holders. It marks a significant increase over Verizon’s previous NFL pact: Sports Business Daily says the company had been ponying up about $50M a year to the NFL since 2010 — including rights fees, team spend commitments and media spending on NFL media partners – but will make a $210M payment in the just Year 1 of the new deal. A potential hitch is that the new agreement includes access to games only on mobile phones, which certainly should give rise to a kerfuffle about exactly what defines a “mobile phone” in the age of tablets and Galaxy IIIs and such. 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 »
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 »
UPDATE: 12:45 PM: The Sports Business Daily is reporting that Fox will pay $450 million-$500 million for rights to the next two World Cups, and Telemundo will pay $600 million. If true, those are massive markups from the last U.S. rights deal in 2005, when ESPN paid $100 million and Univision $325 million.
PREVIOUS, 9:40 AM: Fox Sports has won the English-language rights to broadcast the 2018 and 2022 soccer World Cups in Russia and Qatar, respectively, and Telemundo has won Spanish-language rights, after bidding was held this week in Zurich. No financial details were disclosed, but an official announcement is expected sometime today or early next week, according to Sports Business Journal; the deal includes rights to the Women’s World Cup in 2015 and 2019. It means current rights-holders ESPN and Univision — whose deal for the past two World Cups cost them a combined $425 million — lost out in the auction at FIFA headquarters, a surprising outcome that didn’t seem to be on anybody’s radar. ESPN, whose current deal includes the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, said this morning in a statement: “We made a disciplined bid that would have been both valuable to FIFA and profitable for our company, while continuing to grow our unprecedented coverage of the World Cup and Women’s World Cup events. We were aggressive while … 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.
Fox Sports and mixed-martial arts league UFC have just finalized a multi-year deal that will put at least four primetime MMA cards on the Fox network each year and weekly programming on cable sibling FX. The Sports Business Journal says the deal could be worth as much as $90 million a year over seven or eight years; Fox Sports declined to comment. A broadcast deal is a big step up for UFC, which in addition to lucrative pay-per-view events has weekly shows on cable nets Versus and Spike TV — under the new agreement with Fox, that programming will move to FX beginning in January after those deals expire. (Spike TV still owns rights to a library of UFC programming, including episodes of UFC Unleashed, through 2012.) Fuel, another Fox-owned cable network, also will see some UFC programming, SBJ says. The deal also is a coup for Fox: In June, it was reported that Comcast’s NBCUniversal was in serious negotiations with UFC, with those talks centered on the league taking a controlling stake in NBCU’s G4 cable network, which sported the right young-male demo but has seen ratings challenges. NBCU-owned Versus also already had UFC programming. Instead, rival Fox has taken those demo eyeballs away.
FX’s buying spree of marquee summer movie titles continues with deals for comedies Friends With Benefits and Horrible Bosses. Additionally, the network has the rights to current No. 1 opener Captain America: The First Avenger under FX’s 2008 output deal with Marvel. The three movies join recent acquisitions Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Bad Teacher, Green Lantern, The Hangover Part II, Rio, Super 8, X-Men: First Class, Thor, Just Go With It, The Green Hornet, Tron: Legacy, and Kung Fu Panda 2.
HBO has inked a deal for North American TV rights to Martin Scorsese’s documentary George Harrison: Living in the Material World, which will debut on the network in two parts on Oct. 5 and Oct. 6. The doc explores the musical and spiritual life of the ex-Beatle and cultural icon, mostly in Harrison’s own words. It’s the latest musical documentary from Scorsese, who also recently made No Direction Home: Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones doc Shine a Light. His latest feature film, the 3D Hugo Cabret, is due out Nov. 23 from Paramount.
FX is continuing its strategy of dealing for every movie ever made. This time, the network has landed commercial TV premiere rights to Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which just wrapped the highest-grossing Fourth of July opening of all time over the weekend and has grossed $181.1 million domestic to date. Last week, FX acquired Bad Teacher, and the network also recently has nabbed Green Lantern, The Hangover Part II, Super 8, X-Men: First Class, Thor, The Green Hornet, Tron: Legacy and Kung Fu Panda 2.
ESPN has acquired all U.S. broadcast rights to Wimbledon, the network announced today, outbidding NBC, which has televised tennis’ highest-profile tournament for the past 43 years and the men’s and women’s finals for the past 32 years. The 12-year deal begins with next year’s event and all the coverage will be live — NBC has taken some heat in the past for tape-delaying key matches for American viewers. Matches will be shown on ESPN, ESPN2, the network’s streaming web service ESPN3 as well as on ABC, where selected coverage will be delayed. By 2023, the network said coverage will increase to more than 140 hours. “We are proud to have been a partner of The All England Club the past nine years and are thrilled to be given continuing responsibility for honoring Wimbledon’s rich tradition,” ESPN and ABC Sports president George Bodenheimer said. “Over the next 12 years, we’ll work closely together to move coverage of this great event forward with live coverage on television and using all the latest technologies and screens.” ESPN has had rights to early-round matches since 2003.
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 »
FX has closed a deal for the commercial TV premiere rights to Bad Teacher, the Sony comedy starring Cameron Diaz that bowed to $31 million during the weekend and finished second overall at the domestic box office behind Disney/Pixar’s Cars 2. The deal adds to a growing list of top features due for broadcast on the network, including Green Lantern, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, The Hangover Part II, Super 8, X-Men: First Class, Thor, Just Go With It, The Green Hornet, Tron: Legacy and Kung Fu Panda 2.
EXCLUSIVE: Indie outfit RicheProductions is part of a group that has acquired rights to online live-video portal Justin.tv for feature film and TV development. Justin.tv averages 31 million users a month — the site says a live video starts on the site every second — many in the coveted male 18-34 demographic. Among its recent initiatives is the video-sharing app Socialcam and video game network TwitchTV. All will be ripe for exploitation across multiple media platforms for RicheProductions, which is teaming with Amnesia Inc’s Lee Kramer and J&R Creative Media’s Rebecca Wiegand and Jessica Massa on the rights deal. “We are thrilled to be in business with Justin.tv and the entrepreneurial spirit the founders and the company represent,” Peter Riche said. “We look forward to exploring the many creative possibilities in film, television and across all media outlets.” RicheProductions, led by husband and wife Alan and Wendy Riche and son Peter, is among the executive producers on HBO’s recently announced half-hour comedy project that has Goldie Hawn attached to star and Darren Star writing and exec producing.
FX announced today that it has picked up commercial TV rights to two more box-office biggies: Warner Bros’ Green Lantern and Fox’s Mr Popper’s Penguins, which finshed No. 1 and No. 3, respectively, in the domestic box office race this past weekend. FX last week acquired rights to J.J. Abrams’ Super 8, which finished No. 2 during its second frame for the weekend. The network has been busy buying up tentpole-type movies, already nabbing X-Men: First Class, The Hangover Part II, Tron: Legacy, The Green Hornet, The Roommate, Just Go With It, Rango, Battle: Los Angeles and Thor.
FX is expanding its collection of box-office hits with the acquisition of J.J. Abrams/Steven Spielberg’s Super 8, which opened at No. 1 this past weekend with $36.4 million. The Bad Robot/Amblin/Paramount movie joins the two previous No. 1 box-office openers – X-Men: First Class and The Hangover Part II, which were also recently picked up by FX. All three will make their FX premieres in late 2013-early 2014. Because of Super 8‘s strong early performance, its license fee is expected to be close to 12% of its domestic box-office tally. In addition to Super 8, First Class and Hangover II, FX acquired a slew of other No. 1-opening movies this year: Disney’s Tron: Legacy, Sony’s The Green Hornet, Screen Gems’ The Roommate, Sony’s Just Go With It, Paramount’s animated Rango, Sony’s Battle: Los Angeles and Marvel’s Thor.
FX has landed the TV rights to The Hangover Part II on the heels of the movie shattering comedy box office records this past weekend. The Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures sequel posted the biggest three-day weekend comedy debut ever, $85 million, beating The Simpsons Movie‘s $74 million. And, with a five-day cume of $138 million, it shattered all R-rated comedy records, both weekend and even first-week numbers for Sex And The City. Hangover II will be available to FX in late 2013-early 2014. FX won the rights for the movie over Warner Bros sibling Turner. Proving how far Hangover has come, the first movie was sold to TNT and TBS as part of a 13-title Warner Bros package in May 2009, before the comedy premiered and became that summer’s biggest sleeper hit. Now the sequel is the main attraction and is expected to fetch at least $24 million from the sale to FX. Read More »
Walt Disney Pictures’ Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is staying in the Disney family for its TV window. Cable network ABC Family has acquired the rights to the movie from Disney-ABC Domestic Television. The film, which opened this weekend with $90.1 domestically and $346.4 worldwide, is slated to premiere on ABC Family in 2013.
The war of words between Major League Baseball and Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt escalated today when McCourt said during an interview on CNBC that commissioner Bud Selig was ducking his calls and suggested that the league was purposefully not approving a TV-rights contract that would infuse much-needed cash into the team. McCourt is in New York for meetings with league officials about approving the TV deal with Fox, which the embattled owner said would give him $285 million immediately. “The transaction is complete,” McCourt told CNBC’s Squawk Box. “I’m ready to sign it. Fox is ready to sign it. By the way, this just isn’t something we pulled a rabbit out of our hat in the last week or so. This is a transaction we’ve been working on for six months, and Bud is fully aware of that. It’s a transaction consistent with what’s been approved for other teams.”
The Dodgers are in financial straights, with McCourt pulling out $100 million from the team over the past seven years for personal use, including fighting a messy divorce. That, plus word of an arranged $30 million personal loan from Fox to McCourt to cover the team’s payroll, led the league last week to take over day-to-day financial operations of the club. McCourt has resisted the move, saying today that the Fox deal would solve any problems. “I’ve tried to talk to Bud for several weeks. He’s ducking … Read More »