It appears that Time Warner Cable’s Southern California sports networks have to lay off some staff and those cuts will affect on-air programming.
Time Warner Cable has had some tough sledding since beginning its sports operation in 2011. It first won the rights to the NBA’s Lakers and MLS’ Galaxy and made them the cornerstone of its Time Warner Cable SportsNet and its Spanish language channel, Time Warner Cable Deportes. Then in 2013, it gained the rights to the Dodgers after a protracted battle with Fox Sports and created SportsNet LA for the team’s programming.
Time Warner Cable SportsNet had some carriage problems at first, but is now on most of the major pay television providers with only Dish Network and smaller cable providers not carrying the SportsNet and Deportes.
However, it’s a different story for SportsNet LA. When the channel was created last year, Time Warner got into battles with the major cable and satellite providers that still continue through this day. While Charter picked up SportsNet LA, that was due to the company’s pending purchase of TWC. Other providers including AT&T U-Verse, Dish, DirecTV and Verizon Fios continue to hold out on picking up the channel citing the fees.
So due to low distribution and ratings for SportsNet LA, Time Warner Cable has had to layoff employees at all three of its channels. Tom Hoffarth at the Los Angeles Daily News reports that the entire on-air staff at Deportes was let go meaning that all pregame and postgame programming for the Galaxy will end.
In addition, SportsNet LA will no longer produce its Dodgers Clubhouse show and Larry King at Bat interview program.
It’s not known exactly how many people were let go, but in a memo to its staff, Time Warner Cable cited low ratings for the reason for the layoffs. In a statement, TWC said it was time to make some on-air adjustments to its networks.
“We recently made some changes to our programming for Time Warner Cable SportsNet, Time Warner Cable Deportes and SportsNet LA. As we fine-tuned the programming, it naturally meant that we would make some staffing changes as well. Like many other networks, we’re now past the ‘start-up’ stage and we have a greater handle on what our viewers want to see, and how to staff for that.”
No matter the spin, the distribution problems over SportsNet LA has hurt the Dodgers and has left many fans in the dark. And until the region’s major providers start picking up the channel, Time Warner will continue to experience lower ratings for the foreseeable future.