×

Judge blocks Yankees’ cable net bid

MSG relieved, but must sweeten pot with equity stake

NEW YORK — Madison Square Garden won the first skirmish in its legal battle to keep the cablecasts of New York Yankees games on MSG after the existing contract expires later this year.

A Supreme Court judge in New York stopped the Yankees from concluding a deal with Trans World Intl. (TWI) to form a regional sports network to carry Yankee games. The proposed channel, called New York Sports Network, gave 95% ownership to the Yankees, 5% to TWI.

In his decision Monday, Judge Barry Cozier said that the problem with the TWI deal is that it’s unfair to MSG because MSG has the right to match any offer to cablecast the games, and all the Yankees were offering was TWI’s 5%, not the 100% as called for in the existing MSG-Yankees deal.

In a statement, Dave Checketts, president and CEO of Madison Square Garden, applauded the judge for “uphold(ing) our position, ensuring that the Yankees Partnership will fulfill its contractual obligations regarding MSG Network’s right of last refusal.” Checketts added that “we look forward to more productive discussions in the future.”

Lonn Trost, chief operating officer of the YankeeNets, said in a conference call with reporters that his interpretation of the ruling is that “we can do whatever we want if we value the deal appropriately and present it to MSG.”

Yankees to ask a lot

“The one thing that’s certain is that the Yankees are going to demand a premium for cable and TV coverage of their games,” said David Carter, a principal in the Sports Business Group. “The Yankees are probably the No. 1 sports brand not only in the U.S. but in the world.”

In order to keep the rights to the games, Carter said, MSG may be forced to cough up an equity stake in the network, which is 60% owned by Chuck Dolan’s Cablevision Systems Corp. and 40% by Fox Sports Group.

In the conference call, Harvey Schiller, chairman of the Yankees, said he’s definitely interested in getting a piece of MSG, which has profited hugely over the past 12 years, thanks in large part to the exclusive transmission of Yankee games on cable TV. MSG Network’s subscriber base has ballooned from 2 million in 1988 to more than 7.5 million today.

But Schiller said he’s also fielding offers from other companies, and one source says Time Warner Cable of New York City has broached the idea of helping the Yankees set up a regional sports network.

They could work it out

But Schiller doesn’t rule out a return to the bargaining table with MSG, saying that, although neither side has scheduled a firm date for the resumption of talks, “we’re ready to keep the discussions going.”

“What MSG and the Yankees are working through right now is a legal dance, embellished with a lot of saber rattling,” Carter said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if both sides eventually found a way to strike a financial deal that each of them could live with.”

But the courtroom two-step could continue for the rest of the summer. Trott said the Yankees plan to answer MSG’s complaint in court Thursday.

More TV

  • How Cooking-Travel Shows Are Changing TV

    How Cooking-Travel Shows Are Changing TV

    Toyo hunches over his street food stove, cooking tuna with a blow torch, stopping to light his cigarette with it and produce a cheeky grin. The Japanese chef, who owns a roadside stand in the city of Osaka, is one of many highlighted in the Netflix series “Street Food.” Over the course of 30 minutes, [...]

  • SAG-AFTRA HQ

    SAG-AFTRA Leaders Approve Proposal for New Film-TV Contract

    The SAG-AFTRA national board has approved proposals for a successor deal to its master contract covering feature film and primetime television — a key step in the upcoming negotiations cycle with companies. The board approved the package Saturday with the performers union declining to reveal any specifics — its usual policy. The board established the wages [...]

  • Shannen Doherty'Jennie Garth: A Little Bit

    Shannen Doherty Joins 'Riverdale' Season 4 in Luke Perry Tribute

    “Riverdale” is planning to make a special tribute to Luke Perry. The show’s executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa announced at Comic-Con that Shannen Doherty, Perry’s longtime friend and “Beverly Hills 90210” co-star, will guest star in the season 4 premiere. The tribute episode will “reflect Perry’s enduring legacy and the indelible imprint his character” Fred Andrews [...]

  • Supernatural CW

    'Supernatural' Team Gets Emotional Final Season Sendoff at Comic-Con

    The cast and creative team of “Supernatural” bid a fond farewell to the attendees of San Diego Comic-Con on Sunday. At the show’s final panel in the gargantuan Hall H, the team thanked the fans for all of their support over the years as the series prepares to enter its final season. “I’m trying not [...]

  • Alicia Rodis photographed by Alicia Rodis

    SAG-AFTRA Moves to Standardize Guidelines for Intimacy Coordinators

    SAG-AFTRA is moving to standardize guidelines for intimacy coordinators as part of an effort to establish policies for union members when their work involves nudity and simulated sex. “Our goal is to normalize and promote the use of intimacy coordinators within our industry,” said SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris. “Intimacy coordinators provide an important safety net for [...]

  • SDCC TV News Roundup: Syfy Releases

    SDCC TV News Roundup: Syfy Releases 'The Magicians' Season 5 Clip (Watch)

    In today’s SDCC TV news roundup, Syfy shares a clip from “The Magicians” Season 5, and Amazon sets the Season 4 premiere of “The Expanse.” CASTING Julie Gonzalo and Staz Nair have joined the cast of “Supergirl” for its upcoming fifth season. Gonzalo will portray iconic DC character Andrea Rojas aka Acrata, a polished businesswoman [...]

  • Doom Patrol -- Ep. 101 --

    'Doom Patrol' Renewed, Season 2 to Stream on DC Universe and HBO Max

    “Doom Patrol” has been renewed for a second season and will soon be available outside of DC Universe. At San Diego Comic-Con, series executive producer Jeremy Carver and star Diane Guerrero announced not only that the show will be back for another season but also that it will be available on HBO Max, the upcoming [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content