Report: FOX Sports May Bid on Phillies TV Rights

Screen Shot 2013-04-25 at 11.58.00 AMThis could only be a good thing for the Phillies.

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.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo!:

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.

20 Comments

  1. if fox sports get the phillies contract, comcast can easily decline to pick up the fox sports channel that is carrying the games or drop the fox sports 1 channel in heartbeat. comcastsportsnet migration with nbc sports is a joke.

    • so if fox gets the rights for the phils on fox sports 1, and comcast says go screw to the fox sports 1 channel, does that mean that local broadcasts won’t happen and the fans watching from home suffer?

      • they would. news corp are same people who filed a complaint against comcast to FCC about blocking comcast sportsnets being allow on directv.

        • While I know they can, Comcast would be shooting themselves in the foot by doing that. How many subscribers would they lose, instantly? And how much would Verizon be slobbering to get all those customers?

          I know Comcast can throw it’s weight around, but at some point the wrath of the consumer has to play into it a little bit.

          • on another note, i really don’t wanna pay for prism to watch the flyers again, if you see what i’m saying.

          • wrath of the customers towards comcast is already happening. they are losing subs every quarter. people are leaving comcast for places like verizon or just using internet to get their infomation and watch events.

          • Exactly! Kyle, perhaps the most assinine statement you’ve ever made on this blog? The only leg up to direct tv, verizon etc… comcast has in this town is the phils coverage. Subscription loss would be catastrophic to them. They would obviously be forced to carry the channel. It’s more likely, that FOX is posturing to run the bid up on a competitor at the (low end result) or possibly decimate a competitor (high end result). Comcast should have been pro-active and nipped this in the bud sometime over the last 2 years. The move here for these companies would be to start up a local phils channel where the phillies were also cut in on the add/subscription revenue the new channel generates.

  2. YES! Even MORE money for RAJ to throw at over the hill ballplayers. I love it!

  3. you said it best kyle with your last sentence. this is bargaining 101….phillies use FOX to up the bidding and the eventual paying price by comcast. though you have to wonder, if fox were to outbid comast, would this mean no more t-mac and wheels? one can only dream.

    • Kangaroo Court Fund

      April 29, 2013 at 2:48 pm

      T-Mac and Wheels are employees of the Phillies, not Comcast. They’ll be bringing you action for years to come regardless of which channel/network is distributing the game.

  4. I wonder if Fox will try and start a Philadelphia station, too. CSN more or less has the right to every major sports team (pre and post game live for the eagles, in lieu of the broadcasting rights) in the area. Remember what happened when an ambitious local radio station tried to get all 4 sports in one place? WIP has now lost the Flyers and Sixers rights to 97.5. The Flyers will obviously never leave Comcast, but I have to wonder if the Sixers (in addition to the Phillies, in this case) could jump ship to a fox station. Also, what about the Union? Their games are usually relegated to the comcast network. Their executives might see this as an opportunity for a bigger television audience. Fox Sports can produce soccer; they have UEFA champions league rights currently, and world cup rights starting in 2018.

    • ThePhillyFlash

      April 29, 2013 at 2:37 pm

      You’re right, the Flyers and Comcast are practically joined at the hip and that marriage will never end. As for the Sixers, given how badly they stink, would Comcast even care if the basketball team left for greener pastures? I suspect WIP isn’t exactly bemoaning that particular loss. As for the Union, they’re almost a non-entity in this conversation, but yeah, nobody does soccer on TV better than FOX, and the club would certainly benefit from that sort of exposure. But this is all about the Phillies, they’re the tail that wags this big dog for Comcast.

      • Soccer attention is growing bigger and faster than you realize. Thanks to the recent World Cups, the Union’s intense fandom and attention brought to them on FB, as well as the continued success and increases sales numbers of FIFA in the US, soccer fans are at an all-time high and growing still.

  5. ThePhillyFlash

    April 29, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    This is interesting. If any media giant can challenge Comcast on its home turf, it’s FOX. But you can bet the farm that the Roberts boys will fight tooth and nail to keep the rights to broadcast the Phillies, if Comcast loses baseball, all they’d have left are the Flyers which are a sinking ship and the Sixers whom are nonexistent. To Comcast, this is a fight they can’t afford to lose and they’ll pull out all the stops to win.

  6. Great, a bidding war between Fox and Comcast. And when the price goes through the roof, how do you think they’re going to pay the high cost? More commercials. Have you noticed what an NFL game looks like these days. It won’t be long before there are commercials between every out.

    • or ad popups all over the screen during the game… oh wait

      • more commercials, yep. more onscreen ads, yep. however, we all know any increase in spending is always passed off to the consumer, which means an increase in the already exceedingly high monthly charges from comcast.

  7. I do agree with PhillyFlash, Comcast will pull all the stops to keep the Phillies. Fox would have to pay a tremendous sum to steal them away (which would be good for the Phillies). I have comcast cable and am furious when I get my bill month in and month out with ridiculous charges. I would love to switch providers and would do it in a heart beat if Comcast sports net was offered on direct tv. With that being said, if Fox buys out the Phillies, I’ll probably switch to Direct TV and I’ll just buy the NHL package for hockey. I don’t really care about the Sixers all that much and all the Eagles games are televised. I would miss pre & post game live but the money i’ll probably save will be worth it. Please Fox save us from this monopoly!!!

  8. The other problem the Phils are going to have is righting the sinking ship! If they don’t improve the product on the field, it’s not just game attendance that’s going to suffer, it’s tv viewership. If the ratings go down, so will the bidding prices.

    To Schubee – we already have popups all over the screen…his name is Jimmy Rollins.

  9. chris wheeler has to be one of the worst baseball announcers in the world. what a tool!

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