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Dodgers secure $7B TV rights deal with TW Cable

Dodgers secure $7B TV rights deal with TW Cable

LOS ANGELES (AP) The Los Angeles Dodgers formally announced a deal with Time Warner Cable on Monday to create a new TV channel that people familiar with the situation say assures the team more than $7 billion over 25 years. That is double what Major League Baseball thought the local TV rights were worth when the team was sold out of bankruptcy just last year.

The gap will be the subject of discussions going forward as the league attempts to haggle over how much of that extra money will go into a revenue-sharing pool to help out baseball's lower-revenue franchises.

MLB calculates that 34 percent of a team's local revenue, after subtracting costs, is available for redistribution throughout the league. When the Dodgers were mired in bankruptcy last year, the league agreed to value the potential TV rights of any future deal at $84 million the first year, rising 4 percent every year thereafter. Over 25 years, that estimated TV rights revenue of $3.5 billion.

The actual TV rights contract represents a huge mark-up from that initial forecast. It could be a boon to the league, depending on how much of that revenue its internal rules committee says is subject to sharing. The contract is also a big win for the owners, including Guggenheim Partners and Magic Johnson, who bought the team out of bankruptcy last year for $2 billion from Frank McCourt.

The broad strokes of the deal terms were confirmed by three people who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about them publicly.

MLB spokesman Pat Courtney wouldn't comment on the deal, but said the league would need to approve it. ``We are still awaiting further information,'' he said.

If approved, fans in the Los Angeles area and Hawaii would have to switch from watching Dodgers games on Fox Sports' regional sports channel Prime Ticket after the 2013 season.

The high price tag also means monthly TV bills are likely headed upward - in the Los Angeles market and elsewhere.

``There's no question that there's a huge problem with sports rights,'' said Derek Baine, a senior analyst with research firm SNL Kagan, adding that one big question is ``when is this going to stop?'' Baine also blamed higher TV bills on the proliferation of new channels and rising fees for once-free TV station broadcasts.

Time Warner Cable Inc., which agreed to pay the fees, is now aiming to cut deals with other local TV distributors to offset the cost, which could spread any fee hikes across the TV landscape, including in other markets.

The new channel, SportsNet LA, will be launched and operated by a subsidiary of the team formed in December called American Media Productions LLC.

Along with selling the channel to other TV distributors, Time Warner Cable will have the exclusive advertising rights and certain branding and programming rights. It will also offer production and technical services outside of regular game coverage, which will be handled by the team's subsidiary.

Ownership of the network was important, according to the people familiar with the situation, because the league allows teams to reduce their revenue-sharing contributions by the cost of running their own TV networks.

The contract marks the second major sports rights deal in three years for Time Warner Cable, which bought the rights to Los Angeles Lakers games in 2011 and launched regional sports networks covering them last year.

After paying an estimated $3 billion for the Lakers rights for 20 years, Time Warner Cable eked out higher fees from other TV distributors in Los Angeles, including DirecTV. The cable operator has said it is bidding for long-term sports carriage agreements to give itself certainty about rising sports costs.

``This deal, like our Lakers' deal, furthers our efforts to attain greater certainty and control over local and regional sports programming costs,'' David Rone, president of Time Warner Cable Sports, said in a statement.

However, Time Warner Cable is not the only network operator looking to recoup the cost of sports rights by hiking fees on other TV distributors.

The New York Yankees' YES Network, which is part owned by News Corp.'s Fox network, is also expected to seek a fee hike from Time Warner Cable when that agreement expires early next year.

Dodgers owner Mark Walter said in a statement, ``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.''

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Ron Blum contributed from New York.

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What comes after a must-win? Redskins will find out Monday night against Bears

What comes after a must-win? Redskins will find out Monday night against Bears

At 0-2 and facing the pressure of a lost season very early in their schedule, it's not a secret that the Redskins need a victory Monday night against the Bears. 

In fact, it's beyond a need. It's beyond a must. The Redskins are desperate to get their first win of the year and stave off the questions that come with a terrible start. Jay Gruden and most of his staff are in the penultimate years of their contracts, and that's not an easy spot to be in if a team is losing. 

Washington's players know the situation. Washington's coaches and front office know the situation. But, how can they win?

  1. The Bears strength comes on the defensive side of the ball, where they rank 3rd in the NFL in points allowed and 4th in yards allowed. Chicago's defense has given up just 24 points this year, Against the run, Chicago is giving up less than 70-yards-per-game, and combined with the Redskins inability to run the ball, that looks like a serious mismatch. Where Washington might find success is throwing the ball. In a Bears win last week in Denver, Broncos QB Joe Flacco threw for more than 280 yards. Chicago has some vulnerabilities at cornerback, and Gruden along with offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell will need to scheme to take advantage of the passing game.
     
  2. Speaking of the passing game, Redskins QB Case Keenum probably needs to play his best game in Washington to get a win. Keenum has been pretty good so far this season, particularly at not turning the ball over. He has no interceptions in two games, and while there have been a few close calls, he must keep the ball away from the Bears fierce pass rush of Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd. To make matters more complicated against the stout Bears defense is that Keenum has to protect the ball but also capitalize on big plays when they develop. The Bears offense is struggle city, so if Washington can make a few big plays and get on the scoreboard, Chicago might not be able to keep up.
     
  3. The Bears offensive struggles begin with QB Mitchell Trubisky. In two games, he's completing fewer than 59 percent of his passes and averaging 174 passing yards-per-game. Compare that to Keenum, who's completing nearly 70 percent of his passes for 300 yards-per-game, and the Redskins should have a decisive advantage at the game's most important position. Trubisky is dangerous with his legs, but so far this year has been reluctant to run, with just four rushes for 19 yards. The Redskins defensive front needs to show up for this one; pressure on Trubisky could lead to turnovers. Turnovers could lead to early scores and good field position, which helps a lot against Chicago's defense.
     
  4. While Chicago's defense has been terrific, that might not be the Redskins biggest hurdle on Monday. Just playing on Monday night is an immense struggle for Washington. The team hasn't won a Monday Night Football game since 2014 and hasn't won at home on Monday night since 2012.
     
  5. The Redskins have a mountain of injuries, so don't expect to see Jordan Reed or Quinton Dunbar. Also, Trent Williams continues to hold out from the organization, and it was reported over the weekend that Reed might be considering retirement after sustaining his seventh concussion in the preseason.
     

News & Notes

  • Redskins RB Chris Thompson needs four receptions to pass Earnest Byner for No. 3 all-time on the Redskins list of catches by a running back. 
  • If rookie WR Terry McLaurin catches a touchdown against the Bears, that would be his third straight contest with a score. No Redskins rookie WR has done that since Hall of Famer Charley Taylor in 1962. 
  • Jay Gruden is 2-0 against the Bears. 
  • Redskins rookie LB Cole Holcomb was college roommates with Bears QB Mitch Trubisky at the University of North Carolina.
     

They said it

Jay Gruden on the prospect of opening the year 0-3:

"You have to feel it without a doubt. If you don’t feel it then you’re numb, you’re not a football player. There’s nobody that likes to lose in this locker room. Not a lot has to be said when you lose one game, let alone two in a row in your division against the Cowboys and Eagles, one at home. We’re already in a hole a little bit, so everybody understands there’s a sense of urgency, for sure."

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Aces' Liz Cambage tells Mystics forwards to 'get in the weight room or get out of the post'

Aces' Liz Cambage tells Mystics forwards to 'get in the weight room or get out of the post'

One of the WNBA’s most dominant players is Liz Cambage of the Las Vegas Aces. She’s unforgiving, wears her heart on her chest, and is truly one of a kind.

When the center is playing her finest basketball no one in the league can stop her. Sunday's Game 3 of the WNBA Semifinals against the Washington Mystics had Cambage playing at her finest. 

Matching her season-high, Cambage waltzed to 28 points in only 27 minutes of playing time. Several Mystics took their turn at trying to slow her down. Every Mystic had a chance to help at least at double-teaming the Ace's leading scorer. Primarily it was Emma Meesseman and LaToya Sanders that drew the assignment responsibility, but everyone had a role.

It did not matter in Las Vegas. Throughout the whole contest, Cambage rolled over the interior of the Mystics defense. She scored at ease as the tallest player on either roster for the Mystics and the Aces. 

The Australian knew she could not be stopped. Postgame she analyzed why she was able to command the post so well on ESPN2’s broadcast. In the process, she put several Mystics on blast. 

“They got small forwards guarding me. If they can’t handle it, get in the weight room or get out of the post. That’s what I’m doing. I’m doing my thing inside,” Cambage told Kim Adams.

She’s talking about the 6-4 Meesseman, the 6-3 Sanders. But it doesn't matter whomever the Mystics put on the 6-8 Cambage, there will be a significant matchup advantage for the Aces. 

Not only does she have a clear edge in her height, but she does her build as well. Cambage possesses the ideal structure of a WNBA center. She stands at 216 pounds, 30 pounds more than either of the Mystics primary defenders on her. Sanders’ lanky frame has its advantages in the Mystics run-and-gun offense, but not what you see from a stereotypical center. Meesseman is a better matchup defensively, size-wise but she spots Cambage five inches. 

This is not an oddity though for Washington. There are a minute few in the WNBA that can walk alongside Cambage. As the third-tallest player in the league, only the Phoenix Mercury’s Brittany Griner (6-9) and the New York Liberty’s Han Xu (6-9) position higher.

Despite the clear physical dominance, Cambage is erratic at times. While she wears her emotions, those also tend to get her in trouble with her aggressive play and in dealing with officials. When frustrated, sometimes she struggles to even get a shot on rim.  

This is partly why Cambage’s play was highlighted so much in Game 3. The first two games of the series had Cambage as her own worst enemy. Visibly she was upset with some calls and non-calls by the officials. Timely fouls also limited her flow on the court. 

Neither was the case in Game 3. Fouls went her way. She even got away with a brash elbow to Meesseman’s face why trying to keep the lane clear. The non-call resulted in Mike Thibault losing his cool and getting a technical foul.

It’s also not the first time that Cambage has flailed an elbow to Meesseman. Game 2 saw her earn a technical foul for that same behavior. 

Either way, Cambage is a matchup nightmare against the Mystics. During the regular season, the Mystics – led by Sanders’ defense – kept Cambage to under 15 points in all three of their matchups. In three games in this series, the 28-year-old has 19, 23 and 28 points; progressively getting better in each game. 

Washington still holds a 2-1 lead and is a game away from returning to the WNBA Finals. However, they have to find an answer to slow down the tenacious Cambage. 

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