Tag Archives: MASN

The Mid Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) is a cable channel primarily owned by Peter Angelos and the Baltimore Orioles. It has a bias against Washington D.C., the Nationals and their fans.

anti-masn

Could MASN be a Pyrrhic victory for Peter Angelos? Let’s hope so.

Earlier this month, Grantland published a story by chronicler of Les Expos de Montréal, Jonah Keri on the Baltimore Orioles and their reluctance to spend. That’s nothing new or of even relevant to D.C. sports fans. What is relevant are details of Mid Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) which is primarily owned by Angelos/Orioles.

In 2005, MLB and Angelos worked out a deal allowing the Nationals to operate in D.C. in exchange for a new local TV deal that overwhelmingly favored the Orioles. In July 2006, the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network launched a full-time sports programming slate headlined by O’s and Nats games. The terms dictated that each franchise would receive the same amount in rights fees, but that Baltimore would control a 90 percent share of MASN and any MASN-owned spinoff networks at the start; the Nationals would pick up an additional 1 percent stake each year after an initial two-year wait, until eventually reaching a 33 percent cap. Angelos got his lopsided deal, while the Nationals, who play in the nation’s seventh-biggest market, got screwed.

While the Orioles are bringing in quite a bit more than the Nationals, neither team is profiting from MASN as much as it could be. According to SNL Kagan, a group that analyzes cable and broadcast network deals as well as regional sports networks (RSNs), MASN properties generated $167.8 million in total revenue in 2012. The bulk of that money came from advertising and subscriber fees, with 5.4 million consumers paying $2.14 a month. That’s well below the $2.47 industry average for 2012 and $2.69 projection for 2013, and several of the media experts and sports deal makers interviewed for this story said MASN should be getting much more. Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, which primarily airs Washington Capitals and Wizards regular-season games, got $4.02 per month in 2012, indicating the market would likely support a higher rate for MASN. It’s hard to know whether to blame the network’s low subscriber fee on inept management, the timing of the deal, or other factors, but whatever the reason, it’s clear MASN will be leaving tens of millions on the table until it renegotiates with local cable providers.

First off, I have to acknowledge that while the “low” subscriber fee is bad for the revenue of the franchises, it’s not a negative for cable subscribers whether they watch those channels or not. It won’t go as far to say that Angelos is “saving” cable subscribers by having the “low” rate because if not for him, CSN would probably have the Nats and we were already paying for that channel. Angelos was successful in keeping MASN off of most DC area cable systems well into 2006, the Nats second season.

There are more interesting details:

For now, the MASN status quo remains. The Nationals aren’t completely helpless, though: According to a source close to the Washington franchise, MLB has sent the team an undisclosed sum every year to help bridge the gap, and to prevent the Lerners from taking matters to court, until the deal becomes more balanced…

…when the Lerner family bought the Nationals in 2006, it was saddled with this lemon of a deal, in which neither it nor the team’s first president, Stan Kasten, had any say. The terms stipulated that the deal could be renegotiated after five full seasons, and the Nats took their first opportunity to challenge the terms after the 2011 season. When that challenge dragged into 2012, those terms looked even more unfair. After spending years rebuilding a franchise that had been decimated by penny-pinching and mismanagement in Montreal, the Nats finally made the playoffs for the first time, winning 98 games and the NL East title. That same year, the Orioles made the postseason for the first time in 15 seasons. MASN viewership skyrocketed, enhancing the network’s already rising economic profile, but the Nats saw just a fraction of the returns.

The suggestion that the team or possibly, the Lerner family themselves, are getting payola under the table additional compensation is new to me. Whether that statement is accurate or not will certainly not be mentioned by the Lerners (see, publicly financed Nationals Park roof for reference) so we’ll have to take this cocktail party supposition with a grain of salt. An aside – several years ago I heard a rumor from a one-time employee that in addition to the $450 million purchase price, the Lerner ownership also assumed over $100 million in debt from when MLB operated the franchise. Of course, I’ve had mixed results from that source.

Given that the Lerner family is the richest in MLB, they may have the patience to wait this out a while and if they get a little good behavior money on the side, well, why not. There is risk in that as well, but TV deals have gone up so much across the league, they seem unlikely to regress all the way back.

The motivations of Angelos on the other hand, are not completely clear. As the rest of the article notes, he hasn’t not been a big spender for most of his tenure as Orioles owner (BREAKING: Since I finished writing this post, Baltimore signed Ubaldo Jimenez for four years to which Cleveland fan Vince Guerreri invoked Bill Veeck’s maxim about “the high cost of mediocrity“), this offseason being another example of that and doesn’t seem motivated by his team winning on the field. Seemingly, his motivation for being loved, liked or even respected by his fan base is not significant either — he has had a dozen years to bring Maryland’s favorite son Cal Ripken, Jr. into a meaningful role with the franchise and choose not to go that way. Hiring Ripken would be at minimum on par with bringing in Dan Duquette to take credit for Andy McPhail’s improvements. It seems as though Angelos, in addition to being duplicitous (2004: “There are no baseball fans in Washington, D.C., that’s a fiction.” 2010: What’s good for the Nationals is good for MASN) lacks business sense. Perhaps he is self-aware of that, but it isn’t a stretch to say he’s more motivated to be vindictive. What’s really weird is that he and the Orioles still enjoy relatively uncritical coverage in either his home market of Baltimore or the market he is envious of, Washington, even though he isn’t good at his job.

Another possibility is that the three main participants are quite old. Selig will be 80 in July and has pushed back his retirement date for years. Officially, he plans to step down at the beginning of 2015. Angelos will be 85 in July while Lerner is 88. The three of them could be punting or should I say, pitching around the hitter, to the next generation. That’s not necessarily bad for the Nats, the next commissioner may not have a friendship with Angelos. Of course, what the descendents of the principal owners want and are willing to do is an unknown, though Mark Lerner and his brothers-in-law seem to be in for the long haul. Whehther Angelos’ family is the same I cannot say.

Left unsaid in Keri’s piece is a wild card in all of this – Ted Leonsis. The owner of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, holding company of the Washington Capitals, Wizards, Mystics and Verizon Center, has won’t shut up been very vocal about his plans to create a new cable channel as soon as his broadcast deals with CSN expire, going as far to start an online channel. Obviously, CSN and unless Angelos is really oblivious, MASN, have to be quite interested in this development. For CSN, they are looking at extinction unless they reach a deal with Leonsis. Angelos and MASN probably realize that too and should they team up with Leonsis, that channel would be the dominant sports channel in multiple regional markets without any meaningful competition — i.e. what Angelos wanted from MLB and lost, yet on terms very favorable to him, even if he lacks the business-sense to make it work. Of course the question is whether split profits would be a deterrent to some or all sides. CSN is but one small part of the Comcast empire that includes, many other RSNs, cable/broadband systems and something called the National Broadcasting Company. Fighting over the DC & Baltimore markets might not be a big deal to the diagonally integrated corporate conglomerate.

These are but a few possible scenarios presented and I’ve looked at it more at a mostly local & regional level; FOX Sports or some other corporation may want to be a player too. Ultimately, I expect the endgame to be not terribly palatable to Washingtonians or the Nats franchise. The likeliest situation has Angelos and not necessarily the Baltimore American League ball club coming out far ahead of anybody else. The Lerners may ultimately buy him out, holding their noses as they do it. Regardless, it is worth pointing out that the demise of the Baltimore Orioles is an acceptable, albeit unlikely outcome, for the Washington National League ball club and their fans should it result in the restoration of television rights. Since in the Angelos and Orioles point of view, Washingtonians were acceptable as collateral damage, the same can be applied to Baltimoreans. Perhaps Mr. Keri’s city would be a suitable relocation site for Orioles, whose lease ends in 2021.

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Nats grievances for Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Washington Nationals lost another one to the team they are forced to subsidize, the Baltimore Orioles. I gotta a lot of problems right now!

3. MASN using broadcasters of both teams

I don’t care about the Baltimore angle on the sportscast, I don’t care about promotions at Orioles Park, etc. It is a stupid agreement that nobody likes – On the MASN split booths DC Sports Bog

2. Nats blow 6-2 lead

The Nats were rolling with Ryan Zimmerman hitting three home runs. Jordan Zimmerman though, after 78 innings this season, finally pitched a bad one. It was really bad. Seven Baltimore runners crossed home plate in the inning. Tyler Clippard couldn’t stop the bleeding much either.

“It’s tough to have a night like that and not be able to kinda celebrate it and have fun, because we lost,” said Zimmerman.

I’m in agreement with the face of the franchise on that one.

1.) The Nats TV rights being given to Peter Angelos (default)

Bad idea in 2005, bad idea now. This joint booth is an annoyance, but the whole corrupt bargain is the bigger problem. You can follow along via the category Peter Angelos is a Coward and by the tag MASN Sucks. How bad is the arrangement? It made me take Comcast’s side back in the day.

As for the final game of the Battle of the Beltways, only…Dan Haren can save us now?

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Nats-Orioles “relationship” is “complicated” because the Orioles are subsidized cowards

On common ground, Orioles and Nationals have complicated relationshipThe Sun
Oh, the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles have a complicated relationship? That’s the fault of MLB commissioner Bud Selig, Peter Angelos and his franchise. Selig coddled Angelos when he didn’t have to:

When the Nationals, after 36 seasons as the Montreal Expos, arrived in Washington for the 2005 season, MLB said the team’s operating territory would be defined in the Major League Baseball Constitution, the occasionally amended governing agreement among the 30 clubs. At the time of the Nationals’ move, the document defined the Orioles’ territory as the city of Baltimore and the counties of Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Howard and Harford. It did not include Washington, even though the Orioles then had a retail store there.

That’s right — I can’t get a Sun at a local newspaper box cluster or watch Baltimore television stations. D.C. and Baltimore simply aren’t the same market.

Selig handed over the supermajority of the Nats TV rights to Angelos, who doesn’t believe Baltimore fans are good enough to support a team. Two cowards, one fearing a lawsuit, the other regional competition, punished Washington fans and the District of Columbia who made a significant investment in Nationals Park. Most Washingtonians couldn’t even watch every Nats game until September 2006. MASN’s coverage is still not very good. Angelos and the Orioles are still fighting MLB and the Nats over TV rights compensation for the next 5 year cycle. Since the Orioles are contractually bound to receive the same amount of MASN revenue, Angelos is actually fighting reinvesting into the team. Don’t the Oriole-fanboys and Angelos apologists (is there a difference?) realize that the owner doesn’t want to invest into his own team?

If Angelos hadn’t been such a crybaby, there could a better situation for all involved, but his desire to hurt Washington more than help Baltimore prevented that from happening. I’d be completely indifferent to the Orioles for the most part if he had not kept me from watching my team and demanded a subsidy from it. Otherwise, I’d be going to see the Nats and New York Yankees in Baltimore annually. This is why I have called on all Washingtoinans to boycott the Orioles for years and will continue to do so.

There is no timetable for this bad situation getting resolved, but Selig and Angelos won’t be in power forever, right? I think the 2018 battle is going to be the most important battle.

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New MASN dugout reporter will be Julie Alexandria; Nats take Marlins series

First off, I overslept this morning so I didn’t get to blog about Ross Detwiler (more like BOSS DETWILER) pitching really well again and Bryce Harper going 4 for 5 while battling flu-like symptoms (DC Sports Bog, The Post) in a 6-1 win over the Miami Marlins. Good to get that curly W flag waving on the right side again. Now, moving on…

I half-jokingly suggested several times on twitter that the new dugout reporter for Washington Nationals telecasts on MASN would be Mike O’Connor, briefly a pitcher with the team. I said this because I had heard he was trying to get into the broadcasting business and as a former Nat with local ties (George Washington University and Howard County, Md.) he might have that going for him. So, not a blind guess, but maybe a near sighted one?

The actual choice is somebody named Julie Alexandria

I don’t think she and D.C. are related, but good name. We can only hope that Virginia Arlington and a Montgomery Rockville are someday involved with the franchise.

Nonetheless, she is on twitter at @JulieAlexandria and is already more interesting than her predecessor:

Somebody also RT’ed something she said about Star Wars.

Alexandria has worked with the Mets, Maury Povich (a NATS FAN1!!11!!1) and MTV among other things. @dcsportsbog tweeted this press release that mentioned “Julie is an avid Mets fan, with an AL West crush on the Angels.” There was also a post about her.

I don’t care too much about the dugout reporters, but it’ll be interested to see if she has to dodge as many Gatorade dumps as Kristin Akra. For the most part, I blogged about her because @SteveRep44′s excellent tweet.

Alexandria is expected to start during the next homestand.

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There will be at least 29 Nats games you won’t need to tune to MASN to watch

When it came out that 20 Washington Nationals games would be broadcast on Ch. 9 (WUSA) instead of Ch. 50 (WDCW), I joked about how great it is that we could watch the Nats on VHF instead of UHF:

DC Sports Bog (The Post) has a good post on what Ch. 9′s thinking was on carrying the Nats: WUSA 9 will simulcast 20 Nats games in 2013

As others pointed out to me, I was viewing this through the narrow lens of an everyday Nats fan. Technically speaking, in the age of digital cable being on a low number channel is irrelevant, but as several pointed out the promotional opportunities of being on Ch. 9 are much greater. I’ll concede the point and eagerly await the ratings report from DC Sports Bog.

We also learned yesterday that nine games through the end of July will be carried on FOX. Some of them will be in primetime. Now, if you are of the mind the Nats tend to lose on national TV, don’t get too worried — these games will be a part of a package meaning that some or even many of them will be regional broadcasts. Don’t be surprised if Bob Carpenter is doing the play-by-play, he did last year.

The real upside of all of this is there will be at least 29 Nats games that viewers won’t have to rely on MASN to watch. While we all know it, it is worth reminding everyone about the absolute travesty of a TV “deal” the Nats and their fans are forced to endure. Bud Selig pushed a corrupt bargain between Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos and the Nats when the franchise was still owned by MLB. Selig coddled Angelos by giving 90% of the Nats television rights. Angelos then hastily set up a cable channel called Mid Atlantic Sports Network with poor production values and even poorer market penetration. Angelos kept MASN off most major DC area cable systems through 2005 and well into 2006 — killing momentum for the new Washington franchise. The bad faith served Angelos in two ways — viewers didn’t make the Nats a habit, helping stifle ratings to keep the “rights fee” he had to pay the Nats low. This also helped slow the growth of the D.C. fanbase which Angelos mistakenly felt entitled to. Even now, Angelos is fighting the Nats in the latest round of rights fees. He may wrap himself around the Baltimore and Maryland flags, but he’s naked underneath. His fight to “protect the Orioles for te people of Baltimore and Maryland” is nothing more than him trying to line his pockets. So, in short, any chance to avoid supporting that coward and his cable channel should be welcomed and these 29 games on “over-the-air” channels gives the opportunity.

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Nats TV rights: MLB trying to fix the Angelos problem

MLB seeks creative solution to MASN rights fees dispute between Nationals, OriolesThe Post
After a long period of no news on the Washington Nationals television rights compensation some new information has come out:

Hoping to find a solution to the dispute between the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles over the value of the Nationals’ television rights, Major League Baseball has asked a private investment bank to seek potential new owners for the rights that are now held by the regional sports network controlled by Orioles owner Peter Angelos.

Allen & Co., a New York-based investment bank, is seeking buyers to acquire the two franchises’ broadcast rights from the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity.

A new owner would essentially separate MASN and Angelos from the Nationals by creating a new regional sports network.

Fox Sports and Comcast are candidates to purchase the rights, according to one of the individuals. Both companies, Fox Sports in particular, have delved heavily into the regional sports network market.

Frankly, I’m kind of surprised MLB is being this aggressive. On one front, Bud Selig is never aggressive about anything, though coddling Angelos and the Orioles is a core competency. Cowardly Selig won’t use the “best interest of baseball” power to do right by Washingtonians, Nats fans, the District of Columbia (which made an enormous investment in a new ballpark) or baseball overall. Instead, Selig uses his power to coddle cowardly Angelos, who doesn’t believe that Baltimore will sufficiently support his baseball team. So, Selig gave Angelos 90% of the Nats television rights to Angelos. The Nats franchise picks up a 1% stake in MASN annually, but the deal as currently constructed limits them to owning no more than 66% about 25 years from now. Angelos still has to pay the Nats a rights fee annually (the same amount goes to the Orioles), but he’s trying to lowball it. While some huge market teams are getting close to $100 million annually, Angelos wants to limit both teams to around $35 million. Even Orioles fans see through this as nothing but Angelos trying to enrich himself (WNST) instead of building a successful franchise.

What I am kind of surprised by here, other than the delay in getting something figured out, is that MLB is trying to solve the problem now. That’s not Selig’s style first of all, but secondly Angelos is in his 80s. Ted Lerner, the principle owner of the Nats, is even older. I thought a figure for the next five seasons would be determined , everyone would grumble and the decision would be deferred five years from now when the players are likely going to be different. I wasn’t even opposed to that strategy necessarily, because I think it would favor the Nats since a new commissioner probably wouldn’t have pay so much deference to the Orioles ownership.

Overall, I’m glad to see more discussion about the situation of late. I was kind of out here on an island pointing out the bad faith out of Baltimore — fans used to be resigned to it and the D.C. media wasn’t doing anything about it. The latter may be due to the Orioles fanboys that seem still linger, but thankfully, this problem is finally getting some traction. I think it’ll be ugly and I hope that the longer it goes the better it works out for the Nats.

More:

THOMAS BOSWELL: Dodgers’ spending spree means it’s time to get MASN deal doneThe Post

Then again, Angelos may be going even harder:

So Peter Angelos is digging in his heels over Nationals TV rights… – Nats Enquirer

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Peter Angelos and the Baltimore Orioles are still trying to lowball the Nats on TV rights

Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles split over MASN cable TV rights feeThe Post
Another overview about how Peter Angelos is trying to screw the Washington Nationals and their fans over the television rights he was wrongly granted in 2005. It is a decent article, but omits that Angelos kept Nats games off of most D.C. area cable systems until September 2006.

The Nationals are asking the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN), which is controlled by the Orioles and broadcasts both teams’ games, for between $100 million and $120 million per year, at least three times the $29 million they received last season, according to one person familiar with the proceedings. MASN proposed paying $34 million this season, according to another individual, who also spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Good for the Nats going so high, because Angelos is just low-balling the hell out of the Nats here. Not surprisingly, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has passed on making a decision. His committee which includes representatives from the Tampa Bay Rays, Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets has not reached a conclusion that Selig is comfortable with yet. That’s probably because their findings don’t favor Angelos. In practice, Selig has shown that he values Angelos, the Orioles and the Baltimore market more than the D.C. one. A commissioner should be neutral, but falling short of that, probably ought to look for the good of the sport overall. Is significantly stunting the economic potential of the D.C. team to protect the Baltimore one in the best interest of the sport? Selig would rather reward the bad behavior of Angelos than due what is in the best interest of the Nats and the league in general.

If and when the figure is reached (don’t count on it before the end of the World Series, Selig is as indecisive as a Yankees-Red Sox game is long) I expect it to be somewhere lower than the mid-range between what the Nats want and what Angelos wants. Technically, it’ll be a win for Angelos which will make Selig feel better. Angelos though, will probably still cry loudly about how “unfair” he’s been treated, as most coddled children do when they don’t get something exactly their way. I fully expect Angelos to wrap himself around the Baltimore and Maryland flag as some sort of champion of the city and state’s baseball fans. Of course, it’ll just be more duplicity from someone who is really saying “I don’t believe in these people” to support the team. Maybe he’s got a point — attendance in Baltimore isn’t exactly high right now. Either way though, his cowardice will shine through as always.

The interesting thing though is that the next round, five years from now, is the critical round. There may be new people in charge of both of the teams and the sport. The next commissioner might not believe in protectionism for Angelos. Let’s hope not.

BY THE WAY…

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Bryce Harper is too good to be true; Nats split with Rockies; people are watching/listening

Bryce Harper loves Washington, and says he wants to play his entire career in the cityThe Post
Bryce Harper has decided as a 19 year old that he wants to stay in the D.C. area forever as a member of the Washington Nationals. He’s living in Pentagon City and I never wanted to move out of Pentagon City either, so I see his point. Still, a really feel-good article that you should invest absolutely zero in because a 19 year old’s worldview is very different than a 25 year old on the cusp of a $200-300 million contract. He is saying all the right things rigth now though as evidenced by him suggesting the Colorado brewery selling Clown Question Bro beer donate some profits in honor of a fallen police officer.

He’s too good to be true.

Also, get that man some more Pop Tarts. Maybe an endorsement deal with them too. Is that balcony grill usage legal?

The Nats series in Denver was strange (Stephen Strasburg losing?!, three games of 10 or more runs, rally napkin and coming back from being down 7-0 to lose by one in extras). Given the history with the Colorado Rockies, a split is okay with me. Oh and Tyler Clippard feeding baby ducks in the bullpen.

Peter Angelos is probably really upset because Washingtonians are watching the Nats in record numbers and at a greater rate the Capitals or Wizards. Hopefully, this news has reached the committee that is going to give Bud Selig a recommendation on how much MASN has to pay the Nats for TV rights over the next five years. Angelos, who should not have had the Nats TV rights to begin with, has to be scared that the panel reviewing the Nats request for TV rights compensation will see this new information. It is a mortal lock that the dream of Angelos/Orioles no longer having the Nats TV rights will come true though.

The Nats radio ratings are also solid with 5% of area radios tuned in to hear Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler call the action. All the more impressive — high ratings without pancake banter. Also, more merchandise is being sold at Nationals Park. Note: The previous four links all go to DC Sports Bog which is mostly Nats these days.

1924 Senators throwbacks and more for the July 5 game against the San Francisco Giants.

Ryan Zimmerman is hitting again, thanks to a cortisone shot. Hopefully, he isn’t doing permanent damage though.

A big series with the second place Braves in Atlanta tonight. The Nats have a 3.5 game lead on them and the Mets, along with the best winning percentage in the NL.

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Not shocking news: Nats vs. MASN/Angelos decision delayed at least another month

MLB extends deliberations as MASN, Nationals said to be $70M apart on new rights dealSports Business Daily
Another delay in the “agreement” between the Washington Nationals and MASN, the cable channel primarily owned by Peter Angelos and the Baltimore Orioles? I haven’t been that surprised since the sun came up today.

The Nats shot for the moon, asking for $108 million in annual compensation. Good for them. MASN suggested a mere $35 million or so in compensation. The Orioles will get whatever the Nats get as part of the corrupt bargain.

It is certainly wishful thinking that this thing blow up in Angelos’ face, but that’s probably all it is. He’ll get paid one way or another. Still, the longer it goes, the better it may be for the Nats. The ratings are likely going up as the wins keep coming. I suspect MLB commissioner Bud Selig will grudgingly meet about half-way (a little lower since Selig values Angelos more than the overall baseball good) sometime in the fall. He drags things out which will be to the detriment of all involved.

In terms of really wishful thinking, I’d love to see some unsolicited (high) bids for the Nats TV rights start coming in. Obviously, Comcast SportsNet Washington would make sense. Since Angelos sent precedent for one team controlling another’s TV rights, how about a bid from the YES Network (owned by the New York Yankees) or NESN (owned by the Boston Red Sox)? That’d be fun, but I don’t see them going against Selig that way. A younger George Steinbrenner might have, but he’s gone.

I don’t think this round will go the Nats way as much as we’d like, but in five years, their could be different cast of characters and a lot more leverage for the team on South Capitol Street.

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In theory the Nats vs. MASN/Angelos dispute will be closer to being settled tomorrow

THOMAS BOSWELL: Washington Nationals are due a bigger check from MASN for TV rightsThe Post
The column linked above is almost two weeks old, but still an important read.

Tomorrow is apparently a big day that the Washington Nationals-MASN/Baltimore Orioles stalemate. A panel of three representatives from the Tampa Bay Rays, Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets will give MLB commissioner Bud Selig a recommendation “$60 million or $100 million or likely a number in between” on what the Nats annual rights fee should be. Either way, the Nats stand to make much more revenue from the MASN deal that was forced on them by Peter Angelos, but I think Boswell was being naive thinking that Selig will merely rubber stamp the recommendation unless the Nats get low-balled. As Boswell pointed out in the column, this should have been figured out in November, but Selig does not move swiftly when he has to make a major decision even when the solution is self-evident (see Expos and Athletics relocations). Selig is also friends with Angelos which is how this corrupt bargain was created in the first place.

As for the three representatives, I would imagine the Mets would argue for lower compensation since the Nats are a division rival. The Rays on the other hand would have motivation to encourage a higher rights fee since it could potentially weaken their division rival, the Orioles. The Pirates are the wild card, since they are a small market in the same league as the Nats. While higher rights fees could help “raise all boats” including theirs, they could also fear that another power team in the NL is worse for business.

On the Nats side is Chris Bevilacqua, who has been successful with team deals and RSNs before. I can’t imagine he’s had a tougher one.

Most likely, the Nats’ deal will fall in the $70 million-$90 million range, though all such MLB debates are state secrets. One hidden factor is key: The interests of almost everyone in baseball (except MASN and Angelos) are aligned with the Nats’ getting a rational price. Why? Each new monster regional sports network deal (some contracts now top $1.5 billion) set “comparable” prices for the next team’s negotiation with its TV providers.

If the Nats got shafted, many owners would scream. What’s the point of having a legal monopoly if you don’t band together to drive up prices for your product?

This entire MASN-Nats tussle is about “when” and “how much,” not “if.” A deal has to get finished to set 2013’s MASN price. But you can bet that Angelos and MASN want to string out the Nats as long as possible in hopes of extracting a better deal. The Lerners tend to be phobic about imprecise budget projections, and uncertainty could set them dithering about whether or not to make a July 31 deadline trade that would increase payroll.

My expectation is that Selig will continue to reward Angelos’ bad behavior, first by delaying a decision until the offseason and then selecting a low rights fee. Regardless of that outcome, I fully expect Angelos to go to war with the cable providers over carriage fees of MASN/MASN2, scapegoating the Nats in the process. This could get ugly and don’t be shocked if MASN isn’t on some local cable systems on Opening Day of next year.

UPDATE:
There is an interesting thread on MASN on Federal Baseball

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