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DIRECTV is New Home for the Washington Nationals; MidAtlantic Sports Network and DIRECTV Reach Multi-Year Carriage Agreement for Carriage of Nationals Games


EL SEGUNDO, Calif. & WASHINGTON, D.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--April 29, 2005--

135 Games Now Available in Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Area and MASN Telecast Territory for 2005 Season; 150 Games Available in 2006






With the return of Major League Baseball to the nation's capital for the first time in more than 30 years, DIRECTV, Inc. (NYSE:DTV), the nation's leading and fastest-growing digital television service provider, is stepping up to the plate to deliver Washington Nationals games via the MidAtlantic Sports Network (MASN). DIRECTV is the first, and currently only, pay TV service to carry Nationals games via MASN.


Beginning with today's Nationals/Mets game, residential and commercial DIRECTV customers in the Washington, D.C. designated market area (DMA) who subscribe to any DIRECTV TOTAL CHOICE® programming package will be able to view 135 live regular season Washington Nationals games: 68 games will be televised on MASN and 67 games will be available on WDCA. Customers outside of the greater Washington, D.C. area and within MASN's broadcast territory will be able to view 135 Washington Nationals games on MASN. The MASN-Washington Nationals games will be seen on channel 626. For the 2006 season, 150 games will be available via MASN or over the air.


"As the leading provider of sports programming, DIRECTV recognizes the passion fans have for their local teams," said Dan Fawcett, executive vice president, Programming Acquisitions, DIRECTV, Inc. "The Nationals are off to a great start and with the addition of MASN, DIRECTV customers in the Nationals broadcast territory now have a way to connect with their new home team throughout the season."


"This is fantastic news for Nationals fans and Washington-area DIRECTV subscribers who will now have access to more than 130 Nationals games," said Bob Whitelaw, MASN executive vice president and general manager. "It's a major first step toward MASN's full distribution throughout the region and we thank DIRECTV for `stepping up to the plate' and becoming MASN's and the Nationals' first major carrier. We're pleased DIRECTV saw the value in presenting MASN to viewers across our territory."


As part of the multi-year carriage agreement between DIRECTV and MASN, beginning March 1, 2006, DIRECTV will carry MASN on a full-time, 24/7 basis on channel 626. MASN's service territory includes Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Washington, D.C., and parts of North Carolina, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.


Customers outside of the MASN broadcast territory can access the Washington Nationals games through the MLB EXTRA INNINGS(SM) subscription package, which is available a la carte throughout the United States to all DIRECTV customers. MLB EXTRA INNINGS(SM) provides customers with up to 60 regular season, out-of-market Major League Baseball games each week.


About DIRECTV, Inc.


DIRECTV, Inc. is the nation's leading and fastest-growing digital multichannel television service provider with more than 13.9 million customers. DIRECTV and the Cyclone Design logo are registered trademarks of DIRECTV, Inc. DIRECTV (NYSE:DTV) is a world-leading provider of digital multichannel television entertainment services. DIRECTV is 34 percent owned by News Corporation.

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I've been curious about this issue since I was interested in knowing how the relocation of the Expos/Nationals has been handled with the start of the season. After doing some research on the TV coverage in the Wash/Balt area, I found the following graphic:




I also read an article yesterday in the Wash. Times that said that Peter Angelos has been given quite a sweet deal for MASN. Couple that with the graphic and you get the picture of how wild the whole thing is. It's obvious that he got to say to Bud, "Listen! Here's the thing: What's mine now will still be mine and the Nationals' territory will also be mine. Agree to it or I'll sue your pants." The sad thing is Bud said "Yes" to him on all those points. :thumbdown


Now what does it mean in the grand scheme of things, you may ask? I think this could make relocation that much harder in the future. Imagine the Yankees and Mets would want a similar arrangement if someone wanted to move a team to New Jersey. There could even be problems for Portland, for the Mariners might want to say something about that. And you can all but write off San Jose unless the O-mission-er changes his mind. So Las Vegas still remains the main threat but there still remain as many negatives as positives.


Let's hope Loria & Co. find a way to start building the stadium and all of this will become moot.

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MLB and Angelos have priced MASN's potential price at $750 million. While that sounds huge, you must realize this network owns the rights to 2 Major League Baseball teams completely.


Orioles own 90% while the Nationals own 10%

Orioles pay in $675 million (includes real estate, equipment contracts, talent contracts, operations capacity, and carriage deals)

Nationals pay in $75 million (includes 10% ownership equity stake in network, $20 million yearly license fee, and production of 150 games a season)


From a financial standpoint, MASN makes sense. More for the Orioles than the Nationals, but the Nationals are putting in low risk and have a chance at high reward. If MASN folds, the O's wasted their money while the Nats recovered more through licensing.


MASN is not going anywhere though. O's TV (WJZ/WNUV games) and the Nationals package is what makes up MASN now. If the court rules the O's Cable package can't move to MASN from CSN until the time in contract then the O's just won't have their 150 games on it but just those on WJZ or WNUV.



BTW, this map is over-the-air only. The Nationals with this DirecTV deal will now have games on in that previously O's-only territory in Maryland. MASN takes all Orioles territory and makes it O's/Nats Territory. Similar to the deal the Marlins and Devil Rays have in Florida with FSN Florida.

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