by frobby

As most of you know, I’ve been digging through the MASN court docket for years, trying to understand both the legal issues and MASN’s economics. Digging around, among other things, over the years I was able to get the 2005 settlement agreement that created the dual ownership of MASN, the two RSDC decisions awarding the rights fees, and the various court decisions regarding those awards. But certain things remained obscure, largely because the public versions of the court filings often redacted various financial numbers relating to MASN.

Tonight, though, I hit a mother lode. There’s a transcript of a recent oral argument in which the lawyers refer to some of the numbers that were redacted from the second RSDC award. And here’s what they tell us:

  • Between 2012-16, the Orioles received $432.5 mm in payments from MASN. Of that, $197.6 mm were rights fees equal to what was paid to the Nats. The other $234.9 mm was distribution of profit.
  • The Nats, on the other hand, received $239.2 mm; $197.6 mm in rights fees and $42.6 mm in profit.
  • The second RSDC award, however, determined that the rights fees payable to each team should have been $296.8 mm each instead of the $197.6 each that was paid. Thus, MASN owes each team $99.2 mm in rights fees payments for 2012-16.
  • When the rights fees are adjusted, the distributable profits of MASN shrink from $277.5 mm to $78.1 mm. Of that, $66.1 mm (roughly 85%) belongs to the Orioles, and $12.0 mm to the Nationals.
  • As a result, the amount the Orioles should have gotten is $296.8 mm in rights fees plus $66.1 mm in profits, for a total of $362.9 mm. This is about $69.6 mm less than the O’s actually were paid.
  • Per the award, the Nats should have gotten $296.8 mm in rights fees at $12.0 mm in profit, for a total of $308.8 mm, $69.6 mm more than they actually got paid.
  • I’ve been operating under the faulty assumption that MASN did not distribute the profits that were in controversy. That assumption was wrong. The O’s were overpaid $69.6 mm by MASN and will have to pay that back if the award is affirmed on appeal.
  • Apparently, MASN has the resources to put the $99.2 mm (plus interest) into escrow while they take appeals from the court’s ruling affirming the RSDC award. I’m guessing that the O’s are going to have to fund most of that by returning the $69.6 mm they were overpaid.
  • There are still a bunch of issues floating around having to do with interest on the RSDC award and also whether the court should have taken the overpaid profits to the Nats ($30.9 mm) into account in determining the award to the Nats (it didn’t, on the grounds that it was only affirming an arbitration award about the rights fees and had no authority to get into other issues not formally addressed by the RSDC). So, skirmishing on that stuff will continue while MASN and the O’s appeal the other aspects of the ruling affirming the RSDC award.

Well, now we know exactly how profitable MASN has been, at least during 2012-16.