Now going into its third year, SportsNet LA is again fighting a battle with Southern California pay TV providers and coming out on the losing end. Earlier this month, SportsNet LA operator Time Warner Cable offered to lower its price for one year as an incentive to get Cox and DirecTV on board to carry the Los Angeles Dodgers-centric channel for this season. But reading between the lines on the offer, the two providers balked seeing that the price would go back up after the 2016 season.
At $4.90 per subscriber household in 2015, SportsNet LA which carries the Dodgers is one of the most expensive regional sports networks in the country. According to Meg James of the Los Angeles Times, Time Warner Cable is now offering to lower its fee again, its second offer in a week, in hopes of getting a deal done before Opening Day:
Time Warner Cable now is offering a six-year deal. The first year would be offered at the lower $3.50-a-month introductory price, with a slightly higher rate in subsequent years, according to one person familiar with the proposal who asked not to be identified discussing sensitive deal points.
But once again, Cox and DirecTV are cool to the idea and are in no rush to pick up SportsNet LA leaving some three million homes without the RSN. With Charter and Time Warner Cable already carrying the channel, 1.8 million homes in the region have SportsNet LA, and the longer this dispute goes, the angrier Dodgers fans get.
One other reason for the relunctance by the pay TV providers to pick up SportsNet LA is due to Time Warner Cable’s other RSN, Time Warner Cable SportsNet, created for the Lakers and the LA Galaxy which hasn’t been a great success:
Another reason for the reticence is that several pay-TV operators experienced buyer’s remorse after they agreed in 2012 to carry Time Warner Cable SportsNet, which broadcasts Los Angeles Lakers games. That channel is offered for about $4 a month, per subscriber home, according to SNL Kagan.
Since the channel launched, the Lakers have experienced a downturn and the ratings for their games are low, so Cox and DirecTV don’t want to get stuck with another RSN that doesn’t draw viewers.
So with this being Vin Scully’s last year at the mic as Voice of the Dodgers, fans are wondering if this will ever get resolved. It may take more than just a price reduction to bring Cox and DirecTV into the fold.