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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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Wizards' second round pick Issuf Sanon will take time, much like Tomas Satoransky did

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NBA

Wizards' second round pick Issuf Sanon will take time, much like Tomas Satoransky did

The first round of the NBA Draft played out expectedly for what the Wizards had planned for the night. In Troy Brown, they clearly got the guy they wanted all along, seeing as there were many interesting prospects they passed on to choose him.

The second round was a bit more chaotic. Team president Ernie Grunfeld said there were a few players picked just ahead of them at No. 44 that they had their eyes on. They contemplated trading up, but no perfect deals were presented.

So, they decided to think long-term, like really long-term. In choosing Ukrainian point guard Issuf Sanon, the Wizards understand it may be years before he plays in the NBA.

"We hope to have him developed in a few years," Grunfeld said.

Sanon, just 18, plays for Olimpija Ljubljana in Slovenia. He may stay in Europe into his 20s before he comes to the United States.

The Wizards have utilized the draft-and-stash model with other players. Their 2015 second round pick, Aaron White, has been playing in Europe for the past three seasons.

Sometimes those players never convey and contribute for the Wizards. But sometimes they do and Grunfeld pointed to a player already on their roster as a model to consider.

"We drafted Tomas [Satoransky] at an earlier age, he went overseas [and] he played at the highest level and it got him ready for the NBA," Grunfeld said.

The difference between now and then is that the Wizards have a G-League franchise starting this fall, the Capital City Go-Go. Because of that, it seemed more likely going into the draft that the Wizards would use the second round pick on a guy who can play there right away. 

Grunfeld, however, opted for roster flexibility. By keeping Sanon in Europe, the Wizards can have another open roster spot. They could either fill that spot, or leave spots on the end of their roster open as they did for much of last season.

"We want to preserve a roster spot, so just because you draft someone in your second round, if you sign him, he still has a roster spot even if you let him play for the GoGo," Grunfeld said.

Sanon may have a bright future. He is a 6-foot-4 point guard with impressive athleticism who doesn't turn 19 until October. He said he models his game after Russell Westbrook, as a guard who can score the ball.

The Wizards passed on several interesting prospects to pick Sanon. Still on the board were Keita Bates-Diop of Ohio State, Hamidou Diallo of Kentucky and Svi Mykhailiuk of Kansas, three players they brought in for pre-draft workouts. But instead, they went with a long-term investment, hoping they found the next Satoransky.

MORE 2018 NBA DRAFT COVERAGE:

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Capitals Draft Tracker

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals Draft Tracker

The 2018 NHL Draft starts on Friday with the first round and runs through Saturday. Here's a running tracker of the Caps' picks.

1st round, 31st overall: D Alexander Alexeyev, WHL, 6'4", 196 pounds

The Caps' first first-round pick sine 2016, Alexeyev is a smart two-way defenseman with good size.

Read more on him here.

2nd round, 46th overall (from Florida, via New Jersey): D Martin Fehervary, Allsvenskan (Sweden), 6'2", 194 pounds

A physical style defenseman who is very strong in his own end, but does not have much offensive upside. Sort of a throwback style of play which makes him a surprise pick this high.

2nd round, 47th overall (From Colorado): F Kody Clark, OHL, 6'1", 179 pounds

Kody Clark boasts an NHL pedigree as the son of Wendel Clark, a first-round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs who recorded 330 goals and 564 career points in 763 NHL games.

3rd round, 93rd overall: F Riley Sutter, WHL, 6'3", 203 pounds

Riley Sutter also boasts a strong NHL pedigree as the son of Run Sutter and nephew of Darryl Sutter.

Riley is a power forward who played alongside Caps prospect Garrett Pilon on the Everett Silvertips in the WHL and recorded 53 points in 68 games last season.

4th round, 124th overall: G Mitchell Gibson, NAHL, 6'1", 187 pounds

A Harvard commit, Gibson posted a 1.59 GAA and .935 save percentage in the NAHL last season.

6th round, 186th overall: 

7th round, 217th overall: