The Los Angeles Dodgers organization has reached an agreement with Time Warner Cable that would see the company carry the team's games and help back a new regional sports channel.
As a part of the forthcoming deal, Dodger games would air on the new SportsNet LA, leaving its current home on Fox Sports. The New York Times reports that the deal could be between $7-8 billion, making it the most expensive local TV contract in baseball history.
“We concluded last year that the best way to give our fans what they want - more content and more Dodger baseball - was to launch our own network," Mark Walter, chairman of the Dodgers, said in a statement. "The creation of AMP will provide substantial financial resources over the coming years for the Dodgers to build on their storied legacy and bring a World Championship home to Los Angeles. Just as we are actively transforming the team and the stadium, we want the Dodgers to be exhibited on the very best sports network in the country - one that will provide an unrivaled fan experience."
The network, according to a press release, will carry all Dodgers game, and boast "comprehensive behind-the-scenes Dodger programming, featuring more insights, analysis and commentary about the team than ever available before."
The Dodgers' contract with Fox expires after the 2013 season. In December, the two parties reached a tentative 25-year deal worth an estimated $6.1 billion that included the creation of a Dodgers-branded regional sports network that could be managed by Dick Clark Productions. But the deal was put on hold when the parties couldn't come to an agreement with the MLB on the revenue-sharing terms. When the exclusive negotiating window with Fox expired, TWC was able to start negotiations with the Dodgers.
The signed deal has TWC as a partner in the project. It won't own the television rights outright. Fox and the Dodgers are still negotiating over broadcasting a smaller slate of games.
Fox Sports recently lost the L.A. Lakers game broadcasts to TCW in 2011. Fox still carries games from other Los Angeles-area teams including the Angels (baseball), Clippers (basketball), Ducks and Kings (hockey).
Both the Los Angeles Times and Forbes recently reported that the Dodgers are trying to avoid a conflict with MLB that would end up back in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, which has the final say over how the team’s TV money is distributed. It was the bankruptcy court that oversaw the record-breaking $2.15 billion sale of the Dodgers by Frank McCourt to Guggenheim Baseball (which is primarily backed by Guggenheim Partners, a investment group that also owns Dick Clark Productions and Guggenheim Digital Media, parent of The Hollywood Reporter).