Charter Communications intends to make SportsNet LA, the regional sports network that offers Los Angeles Dodgers baseball games, to its subscribers in a few weeks’ time, potentially ending a yearlong showdown that has left nearly 70% of Los Angeles-vicinity TV subscribers without access to the team.
Time Warner Cable, acquired by Charter for over $56 billion on Tuesday, was the backer of SportsNet, and had been the only cable distributor of the team’s privately owned channel. Rivals like Charter, DirecTV and Cox all resisted airing the network, saying the price sought by Time Warner Cable for carriage rights was too high.
“All I can say is that Charter expects to launch the Dodgers channel to its customers in the coming weeks,” said Justin Venech, a spokesman for Charter, via email. ” I can’t provide any more detail at this time.”
News of the decision was reported first by the Los Angeles Times.
Time Warner Cable covers approximately 30% of the Los Angeles pay-TV market. Subscribers to other services have only been able to watch Dodgers games made available nationally via ESPN, Fox or Fox Sports 1.
Time Warner Cable had sought more than $4 per subscriber per month, according to press reports. That would put the fees for SportsNet LA on par with those charged for national sports networks like ESPN and ESPN2.
Time Warner Cable paid a hefty sum for rights to carry the Dodgers games, agreeing to a pact valued at $8.35 billion over 25 years, per a valuation that had been made available by the Dodgers and Major League Baseball and reported by the Los Angeles Times. Little wonder, then, that the company sought top prices for the sports content. On the other hand, Time Warner Cable’e exclusive rights to show the games likely proved a lure to subscribers of rival services.