As Vin Scully’s time in the booth winds down, Charter Communications has set a deal with Tribune’s KTLA-TV Los Angeles to simulcast six Los Angeles Dodgers games, briefly lifting the TV blackout for local fans who don’t have access to the team’s SportsNet LA channel.
The first KTLA simulcast is set for the Colorado Rockies-Dodgers game on Sept. 23, when the team will honor its legendary announcer with a pre-game ceremony at Dodger Stadium. KTLA will carry two more Rockies-Dodgers games on Sept. 24-25. And KTLA will carry the final series of the regular season when the Dodgers meet the San Francisco Giants on Sept. 30-Oct. 2.
The deal with KTLA is clearly an effort to generate goodwill among fans and promotional value for the SportsNet LA channel. The Dodgers’ regional sports cabler has been rebuffed by Southern California MVPDs since its launch in 2014 because of the high price tag that Time Warner Cable sought for the service. Charter has reportedly dropped the price from $5 per sub to $3.50, but its rival distributors have not budged.
DirecTV in particular is the key platform that has led to a local TV blackout for many Dodger fans. Securing broader distribution of SportsNet LA became Charter Communications’ headache following its acquisition of TW Cable in May. TW Cable set a rich 25-year pact with the Dodgers to create the channel on the heels of the team’s $2 billion sale in 2012.
Charter clearly sees the KTLA simulcast as a vehicle for encouraging fans to switch their pay-TV service to Charter, at least by next baseball season.
“This award-winning network is only available today through Charter, and providing this preview during Vin Scully’s last few games is a great way to allow all Dodger fans to enjoy the legendary announcer as he closes out his iconic career,” said Michael Bair, exec VP of Charter’s Spectrum Networks. “We’re also looking forward to showcasing the network as a way to remind all Dodger fans who don’t subscribe to Charter what they’re missing.”
With Dodgers announcer Scully retiring after 66 seasons in the booth, KTLA is sure to capitalize on Charter’s distribution roadblock and generate a windfall of viewership for its simulcasts.
“In Los Angeles, there’s no greater sports franchise than the Los Angeles Dodgers, and in the history of baseball, there’s been no greater voice than the incomparable Vin Scully,” said Don Corsini, KTLA president and g.m. “We thank Charter and the entire Los Angeles Dodgers organization for the unique opportunity to honor the Dean of Sports Broadcasters, and share these iconic Dodgers games and moments with our entire KTLA5 Southern California community.”