The team brought in media consultant Chris Bevilacqua two months ago to oversee their rights fee deal with MASN majority owner Peter Angelos, who also owns the Baltimore Orioles.
The Nationals are the Orioles' partners in MASN and have reached the five-year "reset" of their deal with the network. That means Washington, which gets around $29 million a year from MASN, is due for a adjustment according to market value. And that market value could mean double or even triple the current amount after the huge deals signed by some teams in the past year or so.
The Angels agreed to a 20-year, $3 billion deal with Fox Sports West last week after signing Albert Pujols. The Rangers inked a 20-year, $1.6 billion deal with Fox Sports Southwest last year.
And even two last-place teams ended up with new local TV deals. The Astros left Fox Sports Southwest to become part owners of the new Comcast SportsNet Houston in a $1 billion deal last year, and the Padres reportedly are leaving Cox Sports San Diego after 15 years to start a new deal with Fox Sports West, though nothing has been announced.
Washington is the eighth-largest TV market in the country, and the deals done in Houston, the country's 10th-largest market, and San Diego, the 28th-largest television market, should help make the Nationals' case.
Angelos and the Nationals are partners in the network -- but not equal ones. As part of the compensation for the Nationals moving into the region, the Orioles were given a 90 percent stake in the regional sports network, while the Nationals received a 10 percent stake. The Nationals currently own 13 percent of the network, and that will increase at about 1 percent a year until they reach their max, which is 33 percent.
Thus far, the Nationals have had a good working relationship with MASN and Angelos, and this might be the first real test of how strong that bond is. If Bevilacqua can't convince Angelos that the Nationals' rights fee request makes sense, things will get interesting. The case would go through an arbitration process. The Nationals' rights will not go out to the open market, but the team could use what the rights might be worth on the open market to help make its case.
Examiner columnist Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. Check out his blog, Watch this!, on washingtonexaminer.com.