With Time Warner Cable putting the finishing touches on a new partnership with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the next question is what will happen to the team’s current TV home, News Corp.'s Prime Ticket.
Besides the Dodgers, Prime Ticket also has rights to the red-hot Clippers basketball franchise and Ducks hockey team. Its other Los Angeles sports channel -- Fox Sports West -- carries the Angels and Stanley Cup Champion Kings
A Fox insider said there are no plans to consolidate Prime Ticket and Fox Sports West into one channel. However, some Angels and Kings games could find their way to Prime Ticket.
While the Clippers and Ducks may not sound like enough content for a sports network, in New York Madison Square Garden has two sports channels that manage to exist without rights to either the Yankees or the Mets.
However, while Fox may be able to keep Prime Ticket going, it will likely have to renegotiate its current contracts with distributors. Losing the Dodgers will mean lower ratings and the channel will be of less value to area pay-TV distributors, including Time Warner Cable and DirecTV.
According to SNL Kagan, Prime Ticket is due to receive about $2.50 per subscriber per month from distributors. After next season, when the Dodgers are no longer on the service, that fee will come down.
As for the Dodgers new home, it will not be on Time Warner Cable’s SportsNet channel, which already carries the Lakers. Instead, the Dodgers are creating their own cable network that Time Warner Cable will have a stake in. Time Warner Cable is shelling out around $7 billion to be the Dodgers’ partner on the network, and an announcement is expected this week.
That means that if the Time Warner Cable/Dodgers deal goes through, Los Angeles will have seven regional sports channels (Fox Sports West, Prime Ticket, SportsNet, Dodgers, Deportes and two Pac-12 networks).
Time Warner Cable’s landing the Dodgers is only going to increase the bad blood between that company and Fox Sports. Late last year, Fox acquired a big ownership stake in the Yes Network, the New York sports channel that is home to the Yankees. Already Fox insiders are saying Time Warner Cable, which has systems in New York, will face a big fee increase to keep carrying the channel.
Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.