Back in early September, I had the opportunity (and pleasure) of meeting Tony Kinkela, an executive producer for Time Warner Cable (TWC). Tony is responsible for all current Dodgers pay-per-view broadcasts as well as all broadcasts on their all-new exclusive Lakers channel. Although my conversation with Tony was relatively brief, we did discuss the pending media rights negotiations that would soon be taking place.
Tony pointed out that one of the major selling points that led to the Lakers going with TWC over their rival Fox Sports/Prime Ticket was offering their broadcasts in Spanish – a very wise decision considering the large Hispanic population in the greater Los Angeles area. (Note: TWC also recently added a Korean broadcast to their Lakers channel). He added that TWC will be offering a similar (but even better) package to the Dodgers when negotiations begin for a new Dodgers media rights contract. As you undoubtedly know, the current contract with Fox Sports/Prime Ticket expires at the conclusion of the 2013 season.
Kinkela was quick to point out that even though much of what Fox will be offering to the Dodgers was pioneered by Time Warner Cable (and copied by Fox), he believes that TWC will bring more to the table than Fox, including having the ability to adjust to the lightening fast advances in technology that will occur over the life of the (likely) twenty-year contract. He also noted that the new Dodgers TV rights deal will probably go north of $4 billion dollars – perhaps well north of that figure.
Although there has been a lot in the media over the past couple of days suggesting that the Dodgers and Fox might be closing in on a reported 20-year/$6 billion deal, I wouldn’t call this a Done Deal just yet since Time Warner Cable hasn’t even had an opportunity to offer a counter proposal yet. (Fox received first negotiating rights because they hold the current contract).
All of this being said and with Fox recently acquiring 49% interest of the extremely popular (and successful) Yankees Entertainment & Sports (YES) network, it is speculated that if Fox wins the Dodgers TV rights deal, they could become a serious rival for ESPN on the national and international markets.