Dodgers sale: Would Fox Sports or Time Warner consider bidding?
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Option A: Pay the Dodgers’ new owner $3 billion -- or more -- to buy the team’s television rights.
Option B: Buy the team itself, for something closer to $1 billion.
That second option could be the better bet for Fox Sports and Time Warner Cable, who could join in the bidding to buy the Dodgers. Although corporate ownership has faded in baseball, simple math might make this opportunity irresistible for Fox and Time Warner.
Time Warner needs something to put on its new Lakers channel when the Lakers do not play, while the viability of Fox’s Prime Ticket channel could be in jeopardy if the Dodgers followed the Lakers in abandoning Fox as their cable home.
Fox would consider bidding for the team in order to secure the television rights, the primary reason the company bought the team from the O’Malley family in 1998, according to a person familiar with the company’s strategy.
At this early stage, Fox has made no decision whether to bid. The person said a Fox bid was ‘not impossible’ but could be complicated by ‘baggage’ from the company’s previous ownership of the Dodgers.
Under Fox ownership, the Dodgers never made the playoffs, traded Mike Piazza and reported losses of $50 million per year, with those losses scaring away potential suitors and paving the way for Frank McCourt to buy the team in a highly leveraged 2004 purchase.
-- Bill Shaikin
Photo illustration: Special to The Times