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The Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals MASN Issue: How It Affects the Normal O’s Fan

July 30th, 2014 at 8:38 AM
By Josh Michael

If you have followed it at all over the last couple of years, the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals have been in a large dispute over MASN rights for broadcasting games in terms of money paid to both teams for broadcasting rights. The battle has been brutal, but kept largely in secret, that is until Tuesday.

'MASN8529' photo (c) 2009, Cathy T - license:

Of all places, the Hollywood Reporter, released a letter from MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, addressed to Orioles owner Peter Angelos and Nationals owner Ted Lerner.

You can read the Hollywood Reporter's article here.

While everyone is entitled to their own opinion on this dispute, but in the end, this all comes down to the decision Selig made to have the Montreal Expos move to Washington and the deal he made with Angelos in regards to MASN. We are not here to dissect the battle as there are so many factors in it, that if you are not a skilled lawyer, you likely wouldn't understand them and we certainly do not understand all the aspects, nor do we expect to.

The bigger question is, how does the entirety of the battle really affect the normal Orioles fan?

While the average Orioles fan does not truly care about the money surrounding MASN, Angelos and Lerner, the result of this battle will affect what the average Orioles fan does care about, the team on the field and on the tube.

'Peter Angelos' photo (c) 2012, Keith Allison - license:

In our minds, the worst case scenario here is that the Nationals end up winning the right to find a new broadcasting partner, which would essentially mean that MASN would cease to exist, meaning a station such as Comcast SportsNet would then likely be the broadcast partner of the Orioles and possibly the Nationals as well or a Fox affiliate of some sort. How does that affect the average Orioles fan? Well depending on your television package or provider, it is possible that finding the Orioles game may be a bit more challenging.

While finding the Birds on the tube could be a challenge, the bigger effect here could be the team and ownership's cash flow, meaning if they lose MASN, which Angelos basically owns, that is a substantial income source that would be lost. Now, they could end up getting a large sum of money per year for broadcasting rights from another television station, it would likely be less than Angelos and company are making off of MASN in its entirety. Again, we are speaking in our opinion here, we do not have the financial data to back that up because frankly, only those involved truly have those numbers.

If the Orioles ownership is making less money, it is likely that they would end up either raising prices to help make up the difference, or spend less money on the players that they put on the field. That is a big effect on the average Orioles fan.

Again, there are so many details that are unknown surrounding this issue that everything we have stated here are basically opinions of ours, but one thing is for sure, this is far from over and now that more information is public, it is likely to get even more nasty.


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2 Responses to “The Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals MASN Issue: How It Affects the Normal O’s Fan”

  1.  James says:

    One thing to remember is that any of these scenarios would leave the Orioles right where they would have been the last time there was a team in DC. From 1954 through 1971, the two franchises shared the region with little or no acrimony. To my knowledge, neither franchise was dependent upon the other for its financial stability. That should remain true today. Baltimore and its surrounding areas should be able to support the O’s quite well without needing the support of Washington, D.C., and vice versa. Further, the two current teams are in different leagues, something not true previously, and so different teams will play in both cities.

    If the Orioles choose to fight the findings of the arbitration panel– as they appear ready to do– that fight will be with MLB, not the Lerners. The Commissioner has vast powers at his disposal up to and including removal of an owner if he deems it in “the best interests of baseball”. To fight THAT would be to call into questions baseball’s long-standing anti-trust exemption, and Bud Selig would never allow that to happen. However strong he feels his case may be, Angelos will ultimately lose to Selig. Live by the cartel, die by the cartel.

    •  Josh Michael says:

      Thanks for the comment James! You make a lot of very good points there, and I agree with you completely. Angelos agreed to the fair market value aspect of that original deal, and if he tries to fight that, then he is looking at a fight with MLB, you are spot on there.

      I also agree that both teams will be fine financially on their own without sharing a network, but I would anticipate some price increases for Orioles fans at first to try and help offset the money the Orioles would initially be losing if MASN were to fold due to losing the Nationals TV rights.

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