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Most people in L.A. still can’t see Dodgers games. There’s some progress though. Kinda.

Jul 29, 2014, 11:03 AM EDT

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The Dodgers and Time Warner launched SportsNet LA this season. The Dodgers games appear on it in California. The problem: only Time Warner subscribers can currently get SportsNet LA and a minority of people in Los Angeles are Time Warner subscribers, leaving the majority of Dodgers fans with no way to watch Dodgers games.

The reason other carriers — including DirecTV, Cox Communications, Verizon FiOS and Dish Network — aren’t carrying it? Time Warner wants to charge them $4 per subscriber to carry it. That’s pretty darn high for a single channel and it’s hard to pass on those costs to all subscribers when most of them probably aren’t baseball fans to begin with. This is a broader problem with all rights fees disputes in pay TV and it has played out in many cities, usually with sports, but sometimes with other channels too.

But since this is sports — the Dodgers no less — a lot of heavy hitters are wading in. Congressmen, mostly, and the FCC, trying to force Time Warner and the other pay TV providers to the table. At the heavy hitters’ suggestion, Time Warner has agreed to forego continued negotiations and simply submit the matter to a binding arbitration which will determine what the other carriers have to pay for it.

However, it takes two to tango:

DirecTV does not appear interested in entering into arbitration to resolve the dispute.

“Rather than force everyone to bail Time Warner Cable out, the simplest solution is to enable only those who want to pay to see the remaining Dodger games to do so at the price Time Warner Cable wants to set,” a DirecTV spokesman said, adding that non-fans should not have to pay for Time Warner Cable’s “excess.”

Not too encouraging. And, obviously, somewhat disingenuous. I’m a DirecTV subscriber and, for some reason, they don’t let me pick and choose which programming I wish to pay for. I have tiers and packages and all kinds of crap. If they’d let me have MLB Extra Innings, Cartoon Network and a couple of science/documentary channels for the kids and would allow me to turn on and turn off Fox and TBS each postseason, I’d be doing that in a heartbeat. I’m not holding my breath.

Oh well. At least I can get Dodgers games here in Ohio. Too bad people in L.A. cant.

  1. sdelmonte - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:10 AM

    Apparently, cable a la carte will never be profitable to the cable companies. I think. I saw it explained, and it made some sort from a strictly business PoV.

    Suffice it to say, there is a reason I don’t have cable. I miss out on a lot, but I also would never watch 90% of the channels.

  2. bender4700 - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:19 AM

    A La Carte wont work because people like Ted Turner, Rupert Murdock, and the Disney folks wouldn’t let the consumer just buy 1 channel, they want you to have ALL their channels.

    Cable companies are not the reason A La Carte isn’t here, the 10-13 big companies that own 99% of the hundreds of channels are.

    5 or 6 big companies own the vast majority of TV networks. Not hard to figure out what is up there.

    • bender4700 - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:23 AM

      Also, imagine how scary it would be if Rupert Murdock owned the two biggest news channels in the US? Good thing Ted Turner turned down that multi billion dollar offer.

    • ashoreinhawaii - Jul 29, 2014 at 6:20 PM

      You nailed it 100%.
      But leave Ted out of it, as he is out of it. Sold out to Time-Warner, and he is still regretting it.

  3. 4d3fect - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:21 AM

    Also, if I’m not mistaken, $4 per subscriber is just the OPENING price. The proposal calls for that price to escalate over the length of the contract. Could be the Dodgers and TW have created and pricked their own bubble.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:54 PM

      Not sure about bubble, but in any discussion of TW, the word prick is likely to feature prominently.

  4. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:21 AM

    At this point there is not reason to have cable companies. The networks/channels should all just do it Roku style and let people subscribe online to their channel and stream it online. Most people only want 5-10 channels, I would imagine. Why should they be forced to pay for 200 they don’t want?

    • bender4700 - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:23 AM

      You do know where the internet comes from right?

      Not the sky.

      • bj2745 - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:35 AM

        To say nothing of the fact that this isn’t how the VAST majority of people use their television service.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:35 AM

        Funny way to phrase that, since a good amount of the internet does come from the sky these days.

        However, I was specifically referring to cable TV in this instance. While the same companies typically offer internet and TV packages, they are separate products. It is only through odd contrivances that the latter remains relevant

  5. sisisisisisisi - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:39 AM

    Beside being overhyped(was flagged for grammar/spelling and not sure why), they have the best pitcher in baseball, a juvenile Cuban defector, and a whole lot of wasteful spending.

    • lanflfan - Jul 29, 2014 at 1:02 PM

      Would you like to have cheese with your whine?

  6. upperdecker19 - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:43 AM

    I am of the belief that the Dodgers themselves deserve a majority of blame here. They took the billions from TWC knowing full well that they’d hold the product hostage to the remaining providers. “But we’re the Dodgers. No one could refuse their product at any price?” Uh…..guess not.

    Not even a big fan here. And barely noticed that I haven’t watched a Dodger game all year. But not being able to watch/hear Vin Scully in what may be his final year is downright criminal.

  7. normcash - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:50 AM

    Time-Warner really screwed itself with the enormous rights fee it agreed to pay the Dodgers.
    I’m sure their return on investment calculations require a subscriber fee close to their demand
    in order to make the deal pay off over the life of the agreement. I’m also sure they thought that,
    after some initial haggling, the satellite services and other cable companies would come around.
    But they haven’t. Nor have they lost subscribers since the exclusivity clause of the MLB agreement
    with all regional networks requires a blackout of home games in home markets, other than through
    the authorized regional. Hence, switching to another service to get Dodgers games is not an option
    for LA-area fans. The other teams must be watching this play out with trepidation. The trick is to
    keep regional sports networks that carry MLB teams on “basic” cable so they can charge for
    every subscriber. But the higher the per-subscriber fee, the more resistance there will be. Finding the balance is a tough business proposition, as TW Cable and the Dodgers are discovering. The irony, of course, is that, since I live in the Bay Area, I can get all the Dodgers games via DirecTV or or At Bat (except when they play the Giants).

  8. rcali - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:51 AM

    How about I trade the 50 reality tv channels I have for one sports channel? Seems more than fair on my part. ESPiN has been taking it to the tv companies for a long time now and it’s getting worse so the Dodgers are just one piece of the problem.

  9. asimonetti88 - Jul 29, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    Good news is that I have Time Warner. Bad news is that I’m not a Dodgers fan so I’m paying for a channel I have not once watched, nor likely ever will.

  10. goawaydog - Jul 29, 2014 at 12:55 PM

    As a Giants fan I am OK with no one in LA seeing last weekends games.

    • lanflfan - Jul 29, 2014 at 1:04 PM

      Like a tree falling in the forest, while we did not see them live they did make a sound. A sweet sweeping sound of joy in a Dodger blue box.

  11. lanflfan - Jul 29, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    I live in LA County and have Verizon which means I have no SportsNet LA. And I am good with that, since it means more TWC money into the team AND more of my money staying in my pocket. I still hear Vin Scully simulcast the first thee innings, and catch highlights and “look-ins” on MLB Network. And, of course, I have HBT for all others tidbits of fact and fun.

    I really don’t care how long each side wants to act like a 5 year old. The Dodgers are playing relatively well, and I hope this finally bursts the bubble on overpriced sports networks.

  12. schlom - Jul 29, 2014 at 1:27 PM

    Weird that the San Diego had the opposite problem – Time Warner refused to carry Fox Sports San Diego so about half of the county couldn’t see the Padres.

  13. sirlurksalot - Jul 29, 2014 at 1:38 PM

    I have DirecTV because (1) Sunday ticket and (2) TWC not offered my area. But even if it was offered, I wouldn’t switch because anytime notable is happening in a game (like Kershaw ‘ s no-hitter), all you have to do is switch to MLB Network for live coverage! There’s no blackout for these, and in fact they showed the Kershaw game from the time is was still a perfect bid. All these DTV subscribers complaining about no dodgers can’t be that dumb/lazy to miss a channel that’s on all the other carriers.

  14. mikhelb - Jul 29, 2014 at 1:39 PM

    That was the same thing that happened with YES Network and Dish and other cable companies.

    So bad that a-la-carte doesn’t exist anymore as it did in the 1980’s all through to the early 2000’s in C Band providers, where the channels were willing to sell on a per channel basis with a quality so high people would not believe it when comparing it to today’s standard for SD.

    Those same providers still exist on C Band, but do not sell anymore.

  15. stex52 - Jul 29, 2014 at 1:43 PM

    Houston has the same problem. Only 40% of the community has Astros because of fights between the cable companies. In our case, though, it is more of a blessing.

  16. The Rabbit - Jul 29, 2014 at 2:09 PM

    If you are an subscriber, I think you can watch territorial or national blacked out games 90 minutes after they end.
    It’s not a great option, but one that may be available.

  17. jm91rs - Jul 29, 2014 at 2:35 PM

    Cut the cord and make friends with a computer nerd. They’ll get you around the geographical restrictions for in no time.

    • The Rabbit - Jul 29, 2014 at 5:17 PM

      lol…I am pretty geeky.
      I wasn’t going to get on a national website and suggest there was a relatively easy workaround for the geographical restrictions, but yeah, there is if you are so inclined.

  18. tmc602014 - Jul 29, 2014 at 3:00 PM

    The original setup way back when was the cable companies that then existed wired the area in exchange for an exclusive contract. Then the cable company contracted with providers to provide content. This created the tiered program options of the cable/satellite business model. We see today that the model is outmoded and useless, but try to get a cable company to give up all that profit! This backlash against TWC is merely the first salvo in the cable shakeup to come. Just as ATT was recognized as a monopoly once the entire country was wired, the same should happen to cable. Someday.

    • lanflfan - Jul 29, 2014 at 3:36 PM

      Agreed, I hope I am alive to witness it.

  19. bcirej - Jul 29, 2014 at 3:54 PM

    Time Warner Cable is such a HYPOCRITE!! They wouldn’t carry the NFL Network for the longest time because NFL wanted price per subscriber, but TWC argued that not all customers would want it. Now they are wanting the same type agreement with other companies that they wouldn’t give NFL?? Big business and again the consumer gets the shaft.

  20. El Pollo Loco - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:31 PM

    Any word on century link prism getting the channel?

  21. muckthefets23 - Jul 29, 2014 at 9:00 PM

    We folks in the southern NJ area that Verizon fios customers are paying per subscriber for Comcast sportsnet at 2.50 per customer. I’ll gladly pay it to not have to have Comcast anymore and I used to work for the evil empire.

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