Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Same Time Same Network in Baltimore/D.C.

As we suspected, the local fallout in the Baltimore/D.C. market from last week's court decision regarding rights fees for the Nationals from MASN is having an impact on two other pro sports teams which serve that area.

Prior to last week, the speculation was that The NBA Wizards and NHL Capitals could become a part of the Monumental Network, which is owned by Ted Leonsis, who happens to own both teams. Talk was that these teams would be headed for a controlled package for their games including streaming, which would abandon CSN Washington as soon as each team's current contract allowed.

Since the court ruling (which we covered last week - see below), the word is (as also reported in Sports Business Daily) that Leonsis is now planning to partner with CSN Washington instead of forming his own network. The SBD report claims that Leonsis would gain 33% ownership in the network and will enter in to a lon term agreement through the 2031-32 seasons. The Wizards would generate more than double their current TV rights fees in the process.

Such an arrangement would be nothing new for Comcast SportsNet, which has partnered with teams in other markets, usually with success. Chicago is a positive example, with the Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs, and White Sox each holding what is are believed to be 20% equity each. Houston was not a good example, with CSN Houston folding and ROOT Sports taking over the telecasts for the Rockets and Astros last year.

It would seem that MASN, which struggles for quality programming during the baseball off-season while being overloaded with both Orioles and Nationals telecasts in season, was either not in consideration by Leonsis or did not make a worthwhile bid for the rights to one or both teams.

As a result, Baltimore/D.C. area fans will be asked to pay for these two networks, likely whether they want to or not, even though both will have a string of months with little to no quality live telecasts every year. The ideal result, which most likely would never happen, would be for MASN and CSN Washington to do a swap of one team each. If one network had, say, the Orioles and Capitals while the other had the Nationals and Wizards, each would have year-round live pro sports. Instead, they'll both be regional networks with what we could term "regional calendars" for years to come.

CBS-TV hit the jackpot with its LSU vs. Alabama prime-time telecast last weekend (11/7). It finished as the most watched college football game of the season to this point, with a ratings and viewer increase of more than 20% over last year's matchup of these two powerhouse teams.

SAN FRANCISCO: As the Warriors begin defense of their NBA Championship, the local fans have taken notice. It's only a couple of weeks into the new regular season, and the TV ratings for the Warriors telecasts are already up an average of 47% compared with the same time frame of last season.

CHICAGO: DePaul University basketball will return to WSCR 670 The Score for its 19th season, although the announcement was only made within the past week. Actually, WSCR will air 22 of the games, farming out the rest due to conflicts. Zach Zaidman returns for his 11th season on play-by-play, while local sportscaster Jeff Blanzy returns for his 5th season as analyst.

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