Committing their TV rights beyond the next decade, the Seattle Mariners have taken a majority ownership position in the regional sports network operated by DirecTV in the Pacific Northwest.
Under a new partnership agreement, the Mariners will become the majority owner in the Roots Sports-branded RSN reaching 3.2 million subscribers in its TV territory. DirecTV Sports Networks, which owns and operates two other regional sports networks based in Denver and Pittsburgh, will now now hold a minority position in the service, while continuing to oversee its day-to-day management.
As part of this new agreement, the network will televise Mariners' baseball --- 159 contests are slated this season -- through the conclusion of the 2030 Major League Baseball campaign. Financial terms were not disclosed. Forbes.com, citing sources, said the deal was worth some $2 billion over 17 years.
A spokeswoman for the MLB club said the Mariners were in the middle of a multiyear rights deal, which had a reopener clause after the 2015 season, with DirecTV Sports. In 2007, Fox Sports, then owner of FS Northwest, signed the rights agreement with the team that went into effect with the 2011 season.
Comcast Sports NW, home to the National Basketball Association Portland Trail Blazers, reportedly had interest in the Mariners' rights.
DirecTV Sports Networks NW and its related assets will be contributed into the new jointly owned entity, named NW Sports Net. However, like its predecessor, NW Sports Net will continue to be branded as Root Sports.
In addition to the Mariners, the RSN will continue to air other professional (Major League Soccer’s Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers), collegiate (Gonzaga University) and high school sports programming.
The network figures to be in contention for the rights to the NBA Kings should the team relocate from Sacramento to Seattle. Comcast SportsNet California is the current RSN home to the Kings.
“This is an opportunity to strengthen and extend our relationship with the Mariners for decades while continuing to leverage DirecTV Sports Networks’ overall resources and expertise for the benefit of our new partnership with the Mariners in the Northwest region,” said DirecTV Sports Networks president Patrick Crumb in a statement.”This new structure will truly align our interests and allow us to work together to maximize the potential for the network and our coverage of Northwest sports.”
Mariners executive vice president of business operations Bob Aylward noted, “This is great news for the Mariners and for sports fans in the Northwest. We are excited to continue our partnership with DirecTV Sports Networks in this new way. We are investing to own a majority share of the new venture, and committing our rights well into the future, confident that this will maximize the value of our television rights and, more importantly, provide the resources to remain competitive on the field for many years to come.”
New York investment bank Allen & Co. advised the Mariners on this transaction, guiding the club through the development and creation of this new venture.
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