With 72 hours to go until the start of the 2016 baseball season, Time Warner Cable has made a last-ditch plea in the SportsNet LA standoff for Los Angeles Dodgers fans to switch providers if they want to broad access to the team’s games this season.
The carriage battle over TW Cable’s SportsNet LA, which carries more than 150 regular-season Dodgers’ games in the Southern California market, has been fierce since the channel’s launch two years ago. DirecTV, Cox Communications, Verizon and other area MVPDs have balked at the channel’s price tag amid broader industry concerns about rising programming costs, particularly for regional sports networks like SportsNet LA.
TW Cable insisted that it has offered price concessions this year for the sake of getting a deal done. There’s urgency in this baseball season as it will be the final one for legendary Dodgers’ announcer Vin Scully. The cable operator urged fans who don’t receive SportsNet LA to switch to TW Cable or Charter Communications. (Charter is in the process of acquiring TW Cable.) The Dodgers’ first game of the 2016 season is set for Monday against the San Diego Padres. The team’s home opener is April 12 against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“We’ve offered short-term deals and long-term deals, we’ve lowered the price by 30%, we’ve asked for arbitration, we’ve offered to pay them the same thing they charge for their RSNs, we’ve told them we’d meet them anytime, anywhere to negotiate, and nothing has worked. They’ve rejected every offer we’ve made,” a TW Cable spokesman said Friday. “We don’t believe they’re interested in carrying SportsNet LA, and fans should switch to Time Warner Cable, Charter or Bright House Networks if they want to see the Dodgers.”
Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred waded into the dispute last week, issuing a statement urging the MVPD holdouts to respond to what he called TW Cable’s “significant economic move.”
Reps for DirecTV did not immediately respond to a request for comment.