Time Warner Cable’s failed merger with Comcast hasn’t prevented it from finding another dance partner.
A deal was revealed this week that will see TWC come together with Charter Communications, uniting two of the top four cable operators in the country. Charter will reportedly buy Time Warner for the cool price of $55 billion dollars. Of course, much like the proposed partnership with Comcast, the Charter-TWC marriage is subject to government approval. However, since the new Charter-TWC conglomerate would control much less of the market than TWC-Comcast (less than a third versus a majority), it’s expected to go through.
What about the sports impact? Time Warner Cable has struggled to get their regional sports networks carriage aside from their outlets. The Charter acquisition would at least see some relief for sports fans, especially those in Southern California without access to Dodgers games. Via the LA Times:
Charter will command a colossal footprint in Southern California, with more than 2 million customers in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange, San Diego, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.
The proposed union of two of the Southland’s biggest cable companies also has the potential to break the logjam in the long stalemate over distribution of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ television channel.
As a goodwill gesture, Charter could quickly begin carrying the SportsNet LA channel, which is owned by the Dodgers, for its current customers in Southern California.
Such a move would enable baseball fans in Glendale, Malibu, Burbank, La Cañada Flintridge, Long Beach and other areas currently served by Charter to watch Dodgers games on SportsNet LA.
Time Warner Cable has been the only major distributor in Southern California to carry the network since it launched at the start of the 2014 baseball season.
Later on Tuesday, Charter Chief Executive Tom Rutledge confirmed that the provider would begin carrying SportsNet LA as soon as possible.
“We are going to get the Dodgers on,” Charter Communications Chief Executive Tom Rutledge said Tuesday morning in an interview with the L.A. Times.
“We want the Dodgers on every outlet and we are committed to making that happen,” Rutledge said.
That’s good news for plenty of baseball fans in So Cal… but it really doesn’t fix the systemic issues for SportsNet LA and the televised sports landscape, does it? Charter has 300,000 subscribers in the Los Angeles region, but there’s no immediate word on whether DirecTV, AT&T, Cox, Dish, or Verizon will end up carrying the RSN after the Charter sale is finalized. If you’re still looking at exclusive channel carriage, just with a bit larger of a customer base, it still means some fans are going to get locked out. And if that’s the case, sports fans will be caught in the middle of the same old carriage disputes – just between larger companies.