The Los Angeles Dodgers, once they get MLB approval, will have a TV channel of their own that will provide billions -- yes, billions -- of dollars in new revenue to them. Could the Cubs do the same?
The Los Angeles Dodgers and Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC) announced plans to create a new network called SportsNet LA to televise the Major League Baseball team’s games beginning in the 2O14 season. The network will be available throughout Southern California and Hawaii on Time Warner Cable, according to a statement today. While the companies didn’t disclose financial terms, a person familiar with the contract said it was worth about $7 billion. The deal will last 25 years, said another person, who asked not to be named because details are private.
Seven. Billion. Dollars. Chew on that number for a while. What this will do for the Dodgers, of course, is provide them with an enormous revenue stream ($280 million a year) before they sell a single ticket to their games. This deal is not official yet:
The #Dodgers do not yet have MLB approval for TV deal. The pending revenue-sharing issue does not involve Time Warner.— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) January 28, 2013
However, it almost certainly will be so approved.
The Cubs' TV rights aren't up for some time. By the time the Dodgers' network launches, the Cubs will still have one year left on their WGN deal and six years left on their CSN Chicago contract. Of course, the Cubs own 25 percent of CSN, which could help lead to some sort of deal where they get out of that early (perhaps by selling that interest to the other partners).
Other teams in small markets, including the Padres and Reds, have signed big-money TV deals that will provide them with revenue that the Cubs don't have. If the Cubs could create their own network at even, say, half the revenue of what the Dodgers are getting, they'd be able to reap enough money to make the current advertising-in-Wrigley debate moot.