The richest team in baseball decided it didn't want to share airtime on local television anymore.
The Dodgers and Time Warner Cable announced the creation of SportsNet LA on Monday, a regional channel that will begin airing Dodgers games in 2014. The 25-year contract, worth $7 billion according to the SportsBusiness Journal, makes Time Warner Cable the charter distributor of SportsNet LA throughout Southern California and Hawaii.
In addition, in return for agreeing to make payments over the life of the deal, Time Warner Cable will be the exclusive advertising and affiliate sales agent for the new network and will have certain branding and programming rights with respect to the network. Time Warner Cable will also provide certain non-game production and technical services.
But the Dodgers will have greater control over content than they enjoyed during the past 16 years with Fox Sports and KCAL (Channel 9) carrying games locally.
"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," Dodgers chairman Mark Walter said in a statement released by Time Warner Cable. "The creation of AMP (American Media Productions, which controls SportsNet LA) will provide substantial financial resources over the coming years for the Dodgers to build on their storied legacy and bring a World Championship home to Los Angeles.
"Just as we are actively transforming the team and the stadium, we want the Dodgers to be exhibited on the very best sports network in the country - one that will provide an unrivaled fan experience."
Major League Baseball must sign off on the deal before it can become official. Under MLB's revenue-sharing stipulations, the Dodgers can expect to share one-third of their estimated $280 million annual television revenue.
"Our mission is to have the most fan-friendly sports programming, and we welcome ideas and suggestions from our Dodger Community," team president Stan Kasten said in a statement. "We look forward to sharing updates with fans in the coming months."
"This deal, like our Lakers' deal, furthers our efforts to attain greater certainty and control over local and regional sports programming costs," said David Rone, President of Time Warner Cable Sports, in a statement.
Guggenheim Baseball Management, a group that includes Walter, Kasten and Magic Johnson, paid $2 billion to buy the team out of bankruptcy last year.