There wasn’t much news attached to Monday’s official announcement that the Dodgers had finalized their deal with Time Warner Cable, nothing that wasn’t known already.
The 25-year contract starts after the following season and is reportedly worth $7 billion to $8 billion.
Mostly it left the same old questions: Will the deal gain Major League Baseball approval, will there be other sports programming on the channel, will there be a Spanish-language outlet, will there be any games on free television?
But here’s another question: Twenty-five years?
If only most marriages could last that long. Who commits for a quarter of a century? Why would either party want a deal so long? There seems genuine risk for both.
It’s easily a record deal for now, but the way things are changing in the broadcast and cable industry, who knows how it will hold up 20 years from now or even 10 years?
In 15 years, it may look like a bargain for Time Warner. Or a gigantic rip off. The Dodgers could be marveling at their tremendous foresight or wondering what they were thinking.
In 15 years, who knows how technology will change the way we receive broadcasts or whether cable will switch to an a la carte menu or what will happen to the economy?
Frank McCourt wanted a 17-year, $3-billion deal that now looks shy on both ends.
Is there an opt-out at some point in the contract for either, or a point where terms can be renegotiated? No safety net? Just more that is unknown.
These lengthy team contract terms are not unique to the Dodgers. The Lakers signed with Time Warner for 20 years. The Angels, Padres and Rangers signed with Fox for 20 years.
Still, the NFL’s last contract agreements were for nine years. The NBA’s last extension was for eight years. MLB signed up for another eight years.
But the Dodgers committed for 25 years. They won’t even commit to Dodger Stadium beyond the foreseeable future, but curiously have no problem with a long-term broadcasting rights obligation.
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