MLB Extends Deadline In Nationals' TV Rights Dispute

General view of the Washington Nationals and Cincinnati Reds opening day game at Nationals Park in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

The Nats and their TV rights carrier are in a dispute over game rights fees. MLB is mediating. This will likely not end well.

TV-rights negotiations for sports teams are usually dry and boring things, not worthy of anything short of a quick mention.

The dispute over the Washington Nationals' TV rights deal with MASN, the regional sports channel covering the Baltimore/Washington area, though, is worth watching. Sports Business Daily has details, which can be summed up thusly:

The Nationals have told MLB that they should receive an average of more than $100 million a year in media rights, a fee that would put the team on par with other teams in the top-10 media markets.

MASN said the fee should average about $35 million a year, citing the team’s low TV ratings and tepid fan base. Plus, MASN believes the fact that Baltimore Orioles games are carried in the Washington, D.C., market should depress the rights fee going to the Nationals. MASN’s offer represents a 20 percent increase over the $29 million a year it now pays the Nationals.

Complicating matters is a parity clause in MASN’s contract requiring that the Orioles receive exactly as much in rights fees as the Nationals. That means if the Nationals wind up with a new deal worth $100 million a year, the Orioles also would get $100 million a year.

It's complicated enough that Major League Baseball, which is to decide this dispute, has extended its own deadline for settling it into July. They were supposed to have decided by now. Why is this important to you, the non-Nationals fan?

Plus, other MLB teams are watching the dispute closely, fearful that a ruling in favor of MASN could set a new lower bar for local TV rights.

The Sports Business Daily article says it's likely there could be lawsuits no matter how this matter is concluded by MLB. Aren't sports fun?

For more on the Nats, please visit Federal Baseball and SB Nation DC.

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