Dodgers, Time Warner Cable Announce 2014 Launch of New RSN, SportsNet LA

The Los Angeles Dodgers announced early Monday morning their plans for a new regional sports network, SportsNet LA, which will launch prior to the start of the 2014 baseball season.

Image.Alphabird.com_41The announcement comes following last week’s rumors that a rights deal between the Dodgers and Time Warner Cable had been struck. The 25-year agreement, believed to be worth between $7 billion and $8 billion, is still pending the approval of Major League Baseball – which is no guarantee as the deal exposes some loop holes in the league’s revenue-sharing model.

SportsNet LA will be completely programmed by the Dodger’s newly-established production arm American Media Productions, LLC (AMP).

“We are greatly pleased that Time Warner Cable, the largest distributor in the marketplace, has come aboard to support the Dodgers and SportsNet LA as our charter distributor,” says Todd Boehly, a principal owner of AMP. “Their presence in Los Angeles will be invaluable in helping us serve Dodger fans and our community with excellence.”

Time Warner Cable will not have an ownership stake in the RSN. According to the official release, TWC has agreed to be SportsNet LA’s charter distributor, and will carry the new network for its customers throughout Southern California and Hawaii under a long-term affiliation deal. In addition, in return for agreeing to make payments over the life of the deal, TWC will be the exclusive advertising and affiliate sales agent for the new network and will have certain branding and programing rights with respect to the network.

LA-Dodgers_logo“We are delighted to support the Dodgers and their ownership group in their launch of SportsNet LA. The Dodgers have one of the most passionate and loyal audiences in sports, and we look forward to helping deliver this new network to their fans,” said David Rone, President of Time Warner Cable Sports. “This deal, like our Lakers’ deal, furthers our efforts to attain greater certainty and control over local and regional sports programming costs.”

The very crowded – and expensive – regional cable television landscape in the Los Angeles area now has another member joining the party. SportsNet LA will be the sixth RSN in the L.A. area. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, TWC executives said they believed the SportsNet LA name would be distinctive enough from the Time Warner Cable Sportsnet name given to the new Lakers channel, which debuted with a Spanish-language sister station in the fall of 2012.

TWC will also provide certain non-game production and technical services to AMP, the production company that the Dodgers quietly launched in December with plans that it would program a Dodgers-only network.

“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,” says Mark Walter, Chairman of the Los Angeles Dodgers. “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.”

In an official statement on the team’s website, Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten said:

“The launch of the new regional sports network is a historic development for the Dodgers and our passionate fans. Our commitment from day one has been to build the Dodgers into the best team possible, both on and off the field. Our fans deserve the best – the best players, the best baseball, and the best experience – whether that’s at the newly renovated Dodger Stadium or on television.

“Our mission is to have the most fan-friendly sports programming, and we welcome ideas and suggestions from our Dodger Community. We look forward to sharing updates with fans in the coming months. In the meantime, we remain very excited about the upcoming 2013 season where we will be showcasing our incredible new roster and the many enhancements to Dodger Stadium, as well as continuing our commitment to broadcast excellence with our current partners Fox Sports and KCAL 9.”

The Dodgers will remain on Fox Sports this upcoming season.

As for the MLB revenue-sharing discrepancies, under league rules, teams are required to kick in 34% of local TV revenue to aid small-market clubs. A year ago, a bankruptcy court settlement between the league and Dodgers determine the fair-market value of the organization’s local TV rights to be at $84M per year. This 25-year deal with TWC averages out to $280M per year, leaving  the Dodgers and the league to determine how that additional money will be divided.