We’ve known about the struggle regarding SportsNet LA, the Los Angeles Dodgers-centric regional sports network over the past two years. Since it launched in 2014, the Time Warner Cable-operated channel still does not have widespread coverage in Southern California.
SportsNet LA’s pickups from cable providers have been too few and far between. And its penetration of the market is far less than what Time Warner Cable officials have hoped. With Dish, DirecTV and Verizon FiOS among the cable and satellite providers refusing to carry SporrsNet LA, Dodgers fans have had to resort to listening to games on the radio or find other means to watch the games. Charter Communications did agree to carry SportsNet LA in June, but that was mainly due to the company’s proposed merger with Time Warner Cable.
The main sticking point for the channel is the price which is estimated to be $5 per subscriber and the holdouts would like to see that number come down. But even with the dispute approaching its third year, TWC chief executive officer Robert D. Marcus is optimistic and could be considered bullish on SportsNet LA’s future. Marcus told an investor conference this week that while 2015 was very disappointing, he’s still confident that the company will hash out deals for the channel in 2016.
Next season appears to be the final one for beloved Dodgers voice Vin Scully and SportsNet LA would love to have 100% coverage of the Los Angeles market so fans will be able to watch the games and bid farewell to him.
As TWC is in the early stages of a 25-year, $8.35 billion deal to air Dodgers games, it knows that getting the network into as many homes as possible will be good not just for the team, but for Time Warner. But if the major providers continue to draw a line in the sand, then not only will the team remained blacked out, but the deal will considered to be one of the biggest failures in sports television. But we’re not at stage yet.
Overall, Marcus’ optimism is good, but it doesn’t help the long-time fan who’s been patiently waiting for an agreement.