70% of L.A. households still in the dark as TV providers clash over sports network
Baseball season has barely gotten underway, but Dodgers fans who subscribe to DirecTV may already be out of luck this season.
Time Warner Cable has revealed that the company is no longer in negotiations with DirecTV to carry the Dodgers-owned SportsNet LA channel, meaning roughly 70 percent of L.A. households will be left without access to the team’s baseball games.
A Time Warner rep confirmed the news Thursday evening, saying “We can confirm that DirecTV has left the negotiating table. We were advised by their negotiating team that they would not counter our last proposal and that conversations were at an end.”
But DirecTV contended their statement, saying “nothing could be further from the truth.”
A spokesman for the satellite TV provider told Variety they intended to continue to engage with Time Warner Cable and called the move “another transparent attempt to manipulate all TV customers throughout the region.”
“We just didn’t agree to accept their latest outrageous proposal,” the spokesperson added.
DirecTV has previously cited Time Warner’s price as a bone of contention, while TWC asserts that its price is reasonable.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, who carry the most expensive payroll in Major League Baseball, previously offered their games on Fox’s Prime Ticket channel as well as the CBS-owned local station KCAL-TV before the team’s new ownership, which includes former L.A. Laker Magic Johnson, signed a monster $8.35 billion deal last year for the private sports network.
But the cash windfall for the team, predicted to top the N.L. West this season, has so far left most of its fan base in the dark.
Melinda Witmer, Time Warner’s exec VP and chief video and content officer told the L.A. Times Thursday “Given the very aggressive and unprecedented terms they (DirecTV) put forward, it seems they are very uninterested in carrying the Dodgers,” adding that DirecTV customers were eager to switch cable providers.
“The phones are ringing off the hook,” she claimed.
According to Nielsen reports, the lack of distribution has also affected ratings for the first few Dodgers games. Their April 1 and 2 matchups against the San Diego Padres averaged just 37,000 viewers.
In an ironic twist, the Dodgers’ longtime play-by-play announcer Vin Scully revealed that he, too, could not watch the games. Why? He’s a DirecTV subscriber.