The Dodgers got a multi-billion TV deal and their own channel. The owner of that channel, Time-Warner, is tasked with making sure as many people see that channel as possible. To do that, Time-Warner has to convince other carriers — like DirecTV and other cable companies — to add the Dodgers channel. If they do that, it’ll cost those other company’s subscribers an awful lot of money, as sports rights fees are expensive.
According to the L.A. Times, Time-Warner is having some trouble convincing other companies to carry it:
Hundreds of thousands could miss out on watching their team on television this season because of a skirmish between its new TV home and local pay-TV distributors.
Set to debut Feb. 25, SportsNet LA, which is owned by the Dodgers and run by Time Warner Cable, has yet to sign agreements that would make it available in the majority of Los Angeles pay-TV homes.
The kicker: for the first time ever you can’t use rabbit ears to pick up Dodgers games over the air. You have to subscribe to a cable or satellite provider, and even if you do, you may not get your Dodgers if that carrier doesn’t have the channel. The Dodgers will still get their money — Time-Warner has guaranteed it — but how Time-Warner can make money on this without getting others to go along is an open question.
Eventually some will cave. They usually do. But as history shows, bubbles don’t perpetually inflate. They eventually pop. One wonders if the Dodgers/Time-Warner deal isn’t where the big TV money in baseball bubble pops.
Mitt Romney built his professional life in Massachusetts and was once the governor of the state. As such, it is not surprising that he has long identified as a Red Sox fan. So this has to be troubling to him from a fan’s perspective. From Jon Heyman:
The Romney family is bidding to buy a small stake in the Yankees months after their try for the Marlins stalled. If the deal goes through, it is expected to be $25 million to $30 million per percentage point and thought to be interested in one or two percentage points. The Yankees are valued around $3 billion or more.
The effort is being led by Mitt’s son Tagg, one of his brothers and their business partners. Mitt’s spokesman tells Jon Heyman that he has nothing to do with it personally. Tagg Romney is reported to have been planning a bid for controlling interest in the Marlins, but that has fallen through.
I find this interesting insofar as the M.O. for the Steinbrenners has, for years, been to buy out minority shareholders in the Yankees, not seek more. Indeed, when George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees back in 1973 he held just a bare controlling interest and there were a ton of silent partners, most of which were back in Ohio and knew Steinbrenner from his shipping business. I’ve personally gotten to know some of them over the years as there are a handful of them in Columbus and I crossed paths with them in my legal career. They have almost all been bought out in the past couple of decades. They still get season tickets and World Series rings and stuff. You can tell them by their personalized Yankees plates and the fact that, within the first ten minutes of meeting them, they will tell you that they once owned a piece of the Yankees but got pushed out.
In light of all of that it’s interesting that the Steinbrenners are once again accepting bids for small stakes in the team. Especially from someone whose interest in controlling the Marlins suggests that they do not consider it to be a mere vanity investment. Makes me wonder what the Steinbrenners’ long term plans are.
The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.
The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.
Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.