We’ve chronicled the troubles of the Los Angeles Dodgers-centric SportsNet LA regional sports network from the start. Since it began, it was only picked up by its operator Time Warner Cable and some smaller cable providers meaning just 30% of the market had access to the market.
As Charter Communications recently announced it had entered into an agreement to merge with Time Warner, it also picked up SportsNet LA in the process. While it didn’t make a huge dent in the channel’s subscriber base, it did add 300,000 homes in the area.
Tuesday was the first day that Charter subscribers in Los Angeles could watch the Dodgers on SportsNet LA and apparently they were starved to watch the team on TV. The Los Angeles Times reports that the Arizona-Dodgers game, the first with Charter on board garnered a 1.31 rating with almost 104,000 viewers.
Compare that to the season average-to-date of a 0.63 rating and an average viewership of 45,535 and that’s more than double of what SportsNet LA has been experiencing.
Charter was one of the holdouts along with AT&T U-Verse, Cox, DirecTV, Dish and Verizon Fios in refusing to pick up SportsNet LA citing the per subscriber cost. In fact, DirecTV has said it doesn’t forsee carrying SportsNet LA leaving Dodgers fans without the channel for the foreseeable future, but it does air the channel’s games on the MLB Extra Innings out-of-market package.
In the wake of Charter picking up SportsNet LA, DirecTV issued the following statement:
“We continue to hope TWC and the Dodger front office will compromise with the rest of Southern California’s providers so all Dodger fans can watch their games without burdening everyone else with significantly higher fees.”
We’ll see if Charter’s decision will start a domino effect of the major cable and satellite providers in Los Angeles or if it is just a blip on the radar screen in this standoff.
In the short term, Charter subscribers will enjoy watching the Dodgers and listening to Vin Scully’s call of home games. On the other hand, subscribers to the other providers will remain blacked out and they’ll still have to listen on the radio or find other means of watching their favorite team.
At least SportsNet LA can charge a little more for advertising based on the increased viewership thanks to Charter.