The Washington Nationals are in their 13th season as a Major League franchise, and they’re still attempting to hash out the details of their TV revenue sharing agreement with the neighboring Baltimore Orioles.

The Nats have taken a lot of lumps over the course of this years-long process, but this week they caught a break. As reported in the Washington Post, a New York Appellate Court has ruled that the Nationals’ and Orioles’ respective shares of the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network revenue will be determined by Major League Baseball’s Revenue Sharing Definitions Committee.

The Nationals will now ask the RSDC for tens of millions of dollars in MASN rights fees.

This whole saga is almost too complicated to fully lay out, but we’ll do our best. When the Nationals first moved to D.C., they and the Orioles (who own 90 percent of MASN) agreed that the teams’ rights fees would be determined every five years by the RSDC. But in 2014, after the RSDC awarded the Nationals $298 million to cover the period from 2012-16, the Orioles argued that the ruling was invalid because the Nats’ law firm had worked with MLB and with organizations of those on the RSDC panel.

A New York judge invalidated the RSDC’s decision, sparking a lengthy legal dispute. Now, thanks to this week’s ruling, the RSDC—which is made up of MLB owners and executives and changes frequently—will decide the Nationals’ TV revenue once again.

The Nationals have repeatedly argued that their lack of TV revenue limits their ability to spend on free agents, and Rob Manfred has publicly taken their side.

The Nationals declared this week’s ruling “a major legal victory,” but this dispute is still not quite over, as the RSDC must now decide the Orioles’ and Nationals’ rights fees for the previous five years and for the next five years. Unless, that is, MASN appeals to the New York Court of Appeals, in which case this could all go on for who-knows-how-long.

[Washington Post]

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports, MLB.com, SI.com and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.

  • PAI

    Perhaps a divorce would be in the best interest here.

    • RDB

      I think the Nationals should move to the local Comcast (CSN Washington).

      • Deon Hamner

        You right but now the thing is to create your own network….

        • Daniel C.

          Yeah so true. I was surprised the Angels didn’t do it before signing their deal to stay with Fox Sports. I’m glad they didn’t do it. Cause from what I can tell it seems like alot of stuff is just repeats of shows. Yesterday I was at the gym and one of the TV’s was on NFL Network and they were running old red zone coverage I believe

        • BaltoMedia

          The Washington Nationals, per their own signed agreement, are forbidden to create their own network, because they already OWN part of MASN, which rarely gets reported. Since the % of ownership changes towards the Nats 1% per year, after 13 years, they surely own more than just 10% of the network. So that 90% Orioles ownership number is wrong.

    • BaltoMedia

      A divorce cannot happen or the Orioles will immediately file an ANTI-TRUST lawsuit against MLB and put all of MLB markets in turmoil. That was the leverage that Angelos had on Bud Selig to make the MASN deal in the first place because the Orioles clearly lost 25-30% of their fan base. Ultimately, the Nats will own at the very LEAST 30% of MASN unless another better deal is struck with new Orioles ownership when that happens. Right now, the Nats cannot just run from the deal. Without this deal, The Nationals are still The Montreal Expos! No team would willingly choose to cost their existence. This go -round, the Nats probably won’t get as much money as the last decision, but they’ll still get lots of money for the 5 years. With Angelos & the Lerner’s age now a factor, I think there will be motivation to strike another 5 year deal as that would increase the stability and value of both franchises, which will soon lose owners and/or possibly be sold.

  • sarah413

    Maybe, at some point, cable subscribers in Raleigh (and other parts of N.C.) will actually be able to get M.A.S.N. It’s beyond inexplicable that MLB declared this area as Orioles (and now Nationals) territory. This who have the MLB package can’t watch any of those games, home or away. That means, if the Nationals are playing in L.A. and it’s a Strasburg/Kershaw match-up, we can’t watch it. I can understand blacking out home games, but road games?

    • Daniel C.

      Does MASN have a deal with MLB to do in market streaming like Fox Sports Regional networks do. This is one of the reasons why I have YouTube TV so I can watch Angels games. I have MLB.TV and it’s weird but at my house I can watch live games home and away(when I shouldn’t be) but if I go to another part of town then I’m blacked out. But this is why I got YouTube TV. I’m not always home when I want to watch games

      • sarah413

        I don’t know if they have that. My gut feeling is that they do, but somehow Angeles has convinced the powers that be not to allow some markets to watch regardless. This is a long standing “contest” between MASN and then Time Warner, now Spectrum. Still pales in comparison to the ongoing lunacy in L.A. with the Dodgers broadcasts. Imagine not being allowed to watch Vin Scully’s last broadcast.

        • Daniel C.

          I know. I can’t believe this whole dodger thing hasn’t been worked out yet. It’s sad I shouldn’t have to have spectrum to see dodger games. Sadly this is what happens when networks get created. They want to squeeze every cent from us. In regards to the last game of Scully…it actually was broadcast over the air on our CW affiliate. I believe the word got out and believe most that knew saw it. I did and I’m not a dodger fan but got I respect Vin Scully for everything he means to baseball and even more as a person.

  • BaltoMedia

    The main sticking point in this argument is that the Nationals in DC think that as a clearly bigger market than Baltimore, they deserve more money from the network than the Orioles do. But the contract signed clearly states equal payment to both teams. Upon hearing that DC is bigger, most would tend to agree they deserve more money. But the numbers don’t bear that out, hence Angelos is continuing to fight. Orioles ratings during the 13 years have largely been greater for the Orioles. Only in recent years have the Nats gotten more TV ratings than the Orioles. In fact, during the early years, the Orioles actually got better TV ratings in the DC market than the Nats did. DC people still watch the Orioles, but no one in Baltimore watches the Nats to this day. Angelos is smart. He knows that because Nielsen & the FCC regard the 2 markets separately, he is able to prove these facts from the detailed ratings. So with that said, basically the Orioles are discounting the market size = more money theory because they have a signed contract in hand that is on their side. Ultimately, the Nats will get more money. It’s now, more than ever more important for this to be settled. Manfred in actions, not words, has made it clear that Oriole Park, the jewel of MLB will never get another All Star Game until it is. Even people in Baltimore are tired of hearing about this dragging on.