Time Warner Cable to carry LA Dodgers baseball channel

Mon Jan 28, 2013 2:02pm EST
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By Liana B. Baker

(Reuters) - Time Warner Cable Inc said on Monday it will carry the new Los Angeles Dodgers television channel, outbidding Fox Sports, which held the rights to show Dodgers games for more than a decade.

The Dodgers ownership group will control the channel, becoming the latest sports franchise to own all or part of its own regional sports network, ensuring ongoing television profits in addition to the lucrative revenue from cable operators.

The channel, to be called SportsNet LA, is scheduled to begin airing Dodgers games at the start of the 2014 baseball season. The channel will be available in southern California and Hawaii.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The Los Angeles Times had reported the deal could be worth between $7 billion to $8 billion over more than 20 years. It is the latest in a string of expensive contracts with media and cable companies for the rights to carry popular sports events.

The trend showed no sign of slowing down, analysts said. "Live sports fare will continue to hit the ball out of the park. There is currently no end in sight to the ever-escalating cost of high demand live sporting events," said Magid Associates television consultant Steve Ridge.

The agreement came two months after Fox parent News Corp said it was buying a 49 percent stake in the YES Network, the regional home of New York Yankees baseball games.

Horizon Media analyst Brad Adgate said the Los Angeles and New York deals reflected the rising value of sports rights for top names in sports, but did not mean demand is the same in smaller sports markets.

"There's very much an appeal for live sports but in smaller markets like Kansas City or Pittsburgh, the deals will be a little more modest and affordable," Adgate said.   Continued...

The Time Warner Cable office is shown in Carlsbad, California November 5, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Blake