Ever since SportsNet LA came onto the Southern California landscape in 2014, it’s been hampered by distribution problems. While it’s carried on Time Warner Cable systems, the company that operates the regional sports network, it’s still not on the major cable and satellite providers in SoCal like Cox and DirecTV. And those two along with other pay TV providers refuse to pick up SportsNet LA due to its subscriber fees. While Charter picked up SportsNet LA last year, that was due to the fact that the company is purchasing TWC and not because it was a negotiated carriage agreement.
As SportsNet LA continues to struggle, an offer to lower its subscriber fee by 30% for one year is being met with skepticism. And as most of the Los Angeles market remains without the Dodgers on television, a new documentary has been produced chronicling the whole mess.
“Moneyball Too” is being shopped around to distributors by filmmaker Tom Wilson. The documentary looks at the two-year dispute between Time Warner Cable and the pay TV companies and how it has affected Dodgers fans who have been impatiently waiting for the whole thing to get resolved.
Los Angeles Times writers Meg James, Bill Plaschke and Bill Shaikin make appearances in the film as does New York Times sports media and business writer Richard Sandomir. And while some fans got excited by Time Warner Cable’s offer to lower its fee for this season and this season only, Wilson wonders where this will lead:
“The compromise is reportedly for one year. So does that mean the following year the price goes back up to $5? Will the other pay TV providers suddenly pony up the $5 after the first year ‘discount’? And how will pay TV subscribers who are not Dodger fans react to that?”
Because all of the Dodgers games are on SportsNet LA, cord cutters and low-income families who can’t afford cable are shut out. When the Dodgers games were split between Fox Sports Prime Ticket and KCAL, fans could depend on seeing a number of games on free TV, but except for one week of games on broadcast TV in 2014, SportsNet LA has kept the Dodgers to itself.
It’s very frustrating for the 70% of Los Angeles residents who can’t watch the Dodgers and have to resort to the radio or just go without the team. It’s cutting out many fans who target their anger at the Dodgers, Time Warner Cable, the channel’s owner Guggenheim Baseball Management, the pay TV distributors and anyone who comes close to be associated by default.
Wilson has been shopping around his documentary and public TV stations in the area have expressed interest in airing it. The documentary’s trailer can be seen here.
Wilson is hopeful the dispute gets resolved, but while Dodgers fans remain in limbo, he hopes they will watch “Moneyball Too.”
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