DirecTV, U-verse and AT&T TV customers will finally get to watch Los Angeles Dodgers games again, after six years of blackout. AT&T and Spectrum Networks have announced a carriage deal that will bring the Dodgers’ regional sports network, Spectrum SportsNet LA, to those subscribers for the first time.
DirecTV/AT&T and Spectrum had failed to come to an agreement for six years, which left the Dodgers with only partial coverage in the Los Angeles market. Under the new deal, DirecTV customers will receive SportsNet LA starting today on channel 690, while AT&T TV and AT&T TV Now customers will start to see the channel on April 8.
The news comes, however, as the baseball season has been delayed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“This agreement underscores our commitment to provide all Dodgers fans the opportunity to enjoy our award-winning programming and live game coverage,” said Dan Finnerty, Senior Vice President, Spectrum Networks. “Working together with AT&T, we were able to reach an agreement to offer the region’s most popular teams to local fans across AT&T’s video platforms.”
Time Warner Cable struck a 25-year deal with the Dodgers, valued at $8.35 billion, in 2013. That deal established SportsNet LA, and ended the Dodgers’ previous partnership with Fox Sports West and KCAL-TV.
The stalemate was over subscriber fees, as Time Warner Cable reportedly initially asked for $4.90 per subscriber for the rights to the channel, which DirecTV/AT&T balked at. That number later fluctuated, but even after Spectrum parent Charter Communications acquired Time Warner Cable, the two sides still couldn’t come to a distribution deal.
DirecTV/AT&T had already carried Spectrum SportsNet, which broadcasts the Los Angeles Lakers. As SportsNet LA struggled to gain wider distribution, Spectrum sealed deals for local Los Angeles TV station KTLA to simulcast some Dodgers games.
The standoff also led to a Dept. of Justice suit against DirecTV, which alleged that the satellite company colluded with others to prevent SportsNet LA from being more widely carried. That suit was eventually settled.
“As anxious as we all are for the ongoing pandemic to end and for the 2020 season to begin, we now have even more reason to be excited because this agreement will make Dodger baseball games and programming available for our fans on Spectrum, AT&T TV, DirecTV, U-verse TV, and AT&T TV Now,” Stan Kasten, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Dodgers, said in a statement. “I want to thank AT&T and Spectrum Networks for coming together on this agreement. We are eager to get this season started once it is deemed safe to do so everywhere.”
With no live games, SportsNet LA will air highlights of the 2019 season, as well as programs such as “Dodgers Squeeze Play” (a condensed one-hour format of Dodgers telecasts), “Timeless Dodgers” (special presentations of the most memorable games in Dodgers history), “Backstage: Dodgers” (an inside look at the players, coaches and management), the interview series “Connected With…” and the documentary series “Dodgermentary.”
SportsNet LA’s Dodger games will be called by Joe Davis and Dodgers legend Orel Hershiser, with Nomar Garciaparra filling in as analyst, and veteran broadcaster Tim Neverett filling in for Joe Davis when needed. Dodgers reporter Alanna Rizzo is the field reporter for SportsNet LA, while also contributing to the network’s live and original programming.