The Breakdown

Explaining Southern California's economy

Time Warner executive doubts Dodgers TV deals will be made this season

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Tuesday night is a rare chance for many Angelenos to see Dodgers like Yaisel Puig and Clayton Kershaw on TV, when they play in the 85th MLB All-Star Game, which is broadcast on Fox. 

As for non-Time Warner Cable customers seeing Dodgers games the rest of the season? That is unlikely to happen, according to David Rone, the President of Time Warner Cable Sports.

"It is a very sad state of affairs," said Rone. "With the lack of engagement that has happened on the part of DirecTV, the indication to us is that we will not make a deal for this content this year."

It's been weeks since Time Warner and DirecTV have negotiated, with the two sides still far apart on price. Caught in the middle are the roughly 70-percent of Los Angeles-area residents who don't subscribe to Time Warner Cable, which by carrying its own channel, Sportsnet LA, has been the one and only major pay-TV distributor airing locally televised games. (ESPN and Fox Sports show nationally broadcast games)

With such limited distribution, the number of fans watching Dodgers games at the stadium has sometimes exceeded those watching on TV.

In the interest of mobilizing Dodgers fans who can't see games on TV, it benefits Time Warner to make the situation seem as dire as possible and portray DirecTV as unwilling partners. This isn't the first time Time Warner has said games won't be available all season. But with more than half the season in the books already, a deal appears more out of reach than ever.

"We are definitely not getting any closer," said Rone, who is frustrated not just with DirecTV, but also with the other providers like Charter and Dish that seem to be waiting for DirecTV to make a deal. "It appears that the other distributors are following DirecTV’s lead."

Time Warner is trying to rachet up the pressure on DirecTV, taking out a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times Sunday, handing out rally towels at games, offering DirecTV customers hundreds of dollars to switch to Time Warner, and using social media to share its side of the story. But the efforts don't seem to be working, with most fans still blaming Time Warner or a combination of all parties for the standoff. Some examples:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/SportsNetLA">@SportsNetLA</a> Quit pandering and acting like you care about <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Dodgers?src=hash">#Dodgers</a> fans. 3/4 bars in L.A. are losing $$ because they can&#39;t show LAD games.</p>&mdash; Richard Frias (@richardfrias) <a href="https://twitter.com/richardfrias/statuses/488793500029186049">July 14, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/SportsNetLA">@SportsNetLA</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/Dodgers">@Dodgers</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/DIRECTV">@DIRECTV</a> you can spin it however you want. I still think you suck since I can&#39;t watch the dodger game</p>&mdash; Mike Burchett (@mkb152jr) <a href="https://twitter.com/mkb152jr/statuses/488791561271259136">July 14, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/SportsNetLA">@SportsNetLA</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/Dodgers">@Dodgers</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/DIRECTV">@DIRECTV</a> &#10;&#10;WE DONT CARE! Stop trying to pass the buck!!! YOU&#39;RE ALL TO BLAME, including the Dodgers!!!!!</p>&mdash; Milo (@Boreekwaa) <a href="https://twitter.com/Boreekwaa/statuses/488791324867317760">July 14, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

If DirecTV is feeling any pressure from subscribers, they won't admit to it. 

"We have seen fewer and fewer calls about the Dodgers as the season progresses," said Dan York, DirecTV's Chief Content Officer. "Consumers are fully aware of what's going on in this situation and they understand that price increases that are unreasonable are not in their best interest to absorb."

York says DirecTV still wants to make a deal, just not at price Time Warner is asking.

"DirecTV remains open to having Time Warner Cable return the Dodgers to Time Warner customers and we've been in discussions with Time Warner, but still have a sizable gap over the price," said York.

The only good news for Dodger fans? Sportsnet LA doesn't carry the playoffs.

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