Thanks to a National Football League ruling that’s sure to send lawsuits flying, L.A. is still a two-team town, and Fox Sports is breathing a sigh of relief.
But sources are indicating that the league’s 21-3 vote on March 15 to block the Los Angeles Rams’ move from Anaheim to St. Louis is a victory that could end up costing the weblet in the short term.
Industry insiders speculate that opposition from Fox, which last year paid $1.58 billion for rights to four years of National Football Conference games, was a key factor in the league’s decision.
The Rams and several groups seeking to bring the team to Missouri may challenge the league’s ruling in court.
Sources say Fox Sports wrote to the NFL asking for a rebate or other compensation if the Rams were allowed to leave the No. 2 TV market for St. Louis, which is ranked 18th in the country.
Moving the Rams from L.A. to St. Louis would reduce the percentage of national homes covered by Fox’s NFC contract from approximately 58% to approximately 53%.
Several Fox Sports execs declined comment on whether the weblet wrote to the NFL in an effort to block the move.
A Fox Sports spokesman said, “If the NFL wants to discuss the Rams and television, that’s their right and prerogative. It’s our preference to keep our contractual obligations our business.” NFL execs also declined comment.
But what Fox gained from the Rams’ staying in the L.A. area – and they gained plenty – may be offset considerably by other factors.
According to sources, Fox was seeking a rebate of $20 million to $25 million, which the weblet must now forgo following the league’s decision not to allow the Rams to move.
And Fox could be hurt by NFL rules preventing the weblet from airing doubleheaders in the L.A. market when the poor-drawing Rams are at home and fail to sell out.