We are 17 days away from the Dodgers taking the field at the Sydney Cricket Grounds for the Opening Series versus Arizona. A large amount of Dodger fans are still unable to see the new all-Dodgers network SportsNet LA if they are not Time Warner Cable subscribers. Frustrations mount as Opening Day quickly approaches, and none of the other cable providers like DirecTV, Cox, AT&T U-verse, or Verizon FiOS have come to an agreement with Time Warner Cable for distribution rights to the Dodgers channel.
Dish Network seems almost vehemently against carrying SportsNet LA, and in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Dish executive Vice President David Shull claimed that “the majority of Dish’s Los Angeles area customers don’t care about getting SportsNet LA.”
That seems like quite a bold statement. While I can’t speak for Dish subscribers, I can speak for Dodger fans who want their access to the games this upcoming season. Dish Network doesn’t carry the Lakers channel SportsNet either, so perhaps Dish subscribers already know and accept that they will not receive either channel in their lineup.
Shull also said that he would be willing to offer his subscribers an a la carte deal, but he claims that Time Warner Cable does not want to agree to any sort of deal of that kind. Dish Network has about 1/2 million subscribers in the Los Angeles area.
The bottom line is that if you are currently a Dish Network customer and you want SportsNet LA, you are going to have to switch over to TWC if possible.
DirecTV was reportedly interested in an a la carte option for distributing SportsNet LA to customers as well as told to the Los Angeles Times by Dan York, chief content officer of DirecTV last month:
“Given the high price that Time Warner Cable is seeking, it would be reasonable to ask that only those families who truly want to pay for the Dodgers actually pay for it.”
The license fee for subscribers whose cable service provider carries SportsNet LA has been rumored to be around $4-5 and could increase over time to $8. At this time, it seems like the other cable service providers are scoffing at the price increase they would have to hand down to all subscribers whether they wanted the channel or not.
Not only will SportsNet LA broadcast every Dodgers Spring Training game, the Australian Opening Series, and the remaining 160 regular season games, but they also produce exclusive Dodgers themed content including programs like Access SportsNet: Dodgers, Backstage: Dodgers, Connected With…, and 2013 Dodgers: A Whole New Blue. There are also new shows being developed including a talk show hosted by Larry King entitled Larry King At Bat which debuts March 18th.
I know I probably pay for channels in my cable package which I never watch. Without TWC disclosing each line item on my bill, I have no way of knowing what I’m actually paying for. Dodger fans are the ones being held hostage during this corporate back-and-forth. Time Warner Cable knows that once the season starts, if there are no other cable providers agreeing to their fees, there will be an influx of subscribers switching over to TWC. Perhaps that is one reason why TWC is apparently not budging on its all or nothing sort of stance during negotiations knowing that Dodger fans will switch if this lingers on much longer.