Despite some conjecture about the Phillies launching their own network, most have assumed that they will be beneficiaries of a massive deal with Comcast when the current broadcasting rights deal between the two expires in 2015. But not so fast, mega conglomerate– now FOX Sports may want to throw their big hat into the ring.
Philadelphia Phillies are whetting their appetite over what could be when their deal with Comcast expires at the end of 2015. It’s easy to see why.
Comcast is a Philadelphia-based company. It does not want to lose the rights of the team that from 2009-11 ranked among the three highest local baseball broadcasts. Problem is, Fox Sports, which has scooped up local rights to about half of baseball, wants to further its grip on the sport in anticipation of Fox Sports 1, the all-day sports channel expected to launch in August.
“And they want Philadelphia,” one source with knowledge of Fox’s plans said. “They got the Yankees [by buying a share of the YES Network], which helps. They’re not going to have the Red Sox. They’re not going to have the Mets. They want another East Coast team.”
It’s not clear if this would mean a rights deal with the Phillies to carry their games on FOX 29 or, more likely, that FOX Sports would launch a local sports network in Philadelphia. But either way, an agreement between FOX and the Phillies would give FOX the rights to broadcast Phillies games on their upcoming national channel, FOX Sports 1.
I’m guessing it would be extremely difficult for FOX to start a sports network here. Besides owning the Flyers, Comcast has its tentacles spread so deeply within the Philly sports landscape that any competitor would automatically be starting from behind. What’s more is that Comcast and NBC are basically one and the same now. Their network (of stations and sites) is quickly becoming a rival to ESPN, and Philly is basically its home base. FOX would have a difficult time getting Comcast to carry either a local or national channel here if they were to crowbar away rights to Phillies games. But then again, two years from now the cord-cutting phenomenon might have already reached a tipping point and Comcast, as a cable provider, could, in theory, be a minor player… though I wouldn’t count on that happening that quickly.
Whatever the case, a bidding war between Comcast and FOX for Phillies games would only benefit the team.