The new TV contract Fox signed with Major League Baseball starting in 2014 contains an interesting provision: any team that has an RSN contract with a Fox affiliate can appear on Fox and Fox Sports One at least 10 more times than teams with a non-Fox RSN according to SBJ. Of the 40 broadcast windows on Fox Sports One, there will be 26 games between two teams that both have Fox-contracted RSNs and will be produced by the local RSN. Each team with a Fox RSN can appear up to 10 times in those 26 windows, on top of the 8 times each team can appear in the other windows on Fox and FS1.

The teams that do *not* have a Fox-owned RSN include several big market clubs partnered up with Comcast, including the Cubs, White Sox, Phillies, Giants, Athletics, and Astros, along with the Root Sports-partnered Pirates, Rockies, and Mariners. The Mets, Orioles, and Nationals are the primary owners of their own RSNs, while the parent companies of the Red Sox and Blue Jays own their RSNs.

Looking at it now, News Corp's purchase of the YES Network makes a lot more sense. Without an ownership stake in the Yankees RSN, Fox Sports One wouldn't be allowed to air any more than the allotted 8 games for either the Yankees or Red Sox, two of Fox's favorite targets. Now, Fox Sports will be able to air up to 18 Yankees games under this structure, several more than ESPN can. This contract stipulation also adds intrigue to the now up for grabs Dodgers TV contract.

Because of the provision that both teams featured must have a contract with a Fox RSN, we actually might get some more variety out of this beyond the increase in Yankees games. With the Red Sox, Cubs, and Phillies all out of play, there could be more exposure for teams like the Rays, Royals, and Reds when playing a big market club (think the Yankees, Tigers, and Cardinals). While the traditional window will likely beat you over the head with the rivalrly matchups we've seen for years (Yankees-Red Sox, Phillies-Mets, Cubs-White Sox, Dodgers-Giants), the extra windows featuring different teams could set the FS1 broadcasts apart.

The game changer, and most controversial element, in all this is the fact that Fox Sports One games featuring RSN teams will be blacked out on local affiliates, moving those fans to watch on the national cable network. For instance, if a home Yankees game were broadcasted on Fox Sports One, fans in New York would have to watch the game there instead of YES. As if blackouts in baseball weren't a big enough pain as it is, this only further complicates things.

While the news of more blackouts isn't encouraging, it's a big deal for Fox Sports One in helping to attract viewers, especially with some of the big market Fox-controlled teams like the New York Yankees involved.  With this wrinkle in the MLB rights package, Fox will be making a significant play to use all of their available assets (especially the regional sports networks) to help build Fox Sports One into a household name.


About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.