Business & Economy

Opening Day 2015: Still little hope for a Dodgers TV deal

The Dodgers started last season in Australia against the Arizona Diamondbacks. This one begins Monday against the the San Diego Padres in Chavez Ravine, but for the majority of fans who can't watch the game, it might as well be taking place 13,000 miles away.
The Dodgers started last season in Australia against the Arizona Diamondbacks. This one begins Monday against the the San Diego Padres in Chavez Ravine, but for the majority of fans who can't watch the game, it might as well be taking place 13,000 miles away.
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

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It’s opening day, the beginning of a fresh start for the Los Angeles Dodgers. But it’s the same old story for the roughly 70 percent of fans who still can’t watch most games on television.

If you're curious about the reasons behind the dispute over Dodgers TV, you can read my Q & A from last year here. Unfortunately for fans, little has changed.

And here’s how bad things have gotten: Last season, Time Warner Cable and its main antagonist, DirecTV, would regularly talk to the media to make their case. Now, still far apart on pricing, they’re not even doing that, much less negotiating with each other.

Each side would only release the tersest of statements, both of which indicate little progress. 

"As the new Dodger season approaches, we hope to work with the Dodgers and Time Warner Cable to find a creative means to provide fans an opportunity to see the games without burdening non-fans with a significantly higher bill," DirecTV said. 

“Despite our repeated attempts, other providers are unwilling to engage in any discussions. If Dodger fans want to enjoy SportsNet LA this season, we encourage them to switch to a provider that carries the network,” TimeWarner Cable said.

The problem with that is the only major provider carrying Sportsnet LA is Time Warner itself — which is only available in about one third of Southern California households — so switching providers is not a real option for most people.

Any potential solution between Time Warner Cable and DirecTV is also complicated by the fact that the federal government is still reviewing potential mergers of Time Warner Cable and Comcast and of DirecTV and AT&T. 

The Dodgers — who receive more than $200 million in rights payments from Time Warner Cable annually — are saying little publicly, though Dodgers CEO Stan Kasten told the Orange County Register recently that he feels "horrible" about the impasse:

"How many times can I tell people how bad I feel? Yeah, I feel terrible about it," Kasten said Wednesday. "It’s the single biggest customer problem I’ve had in my whole career — and the one we’ve spent the most time on.

"Obviously everyone is waiting to see what happens in the larger-scale corporate dealings. Failing that, I know there’s a lot going on behind the scenes, a lot of talk — but, no, I’m not aware of anything that’s going to bring about an imminent settlement. We hope and we keep working at it. But I don’t have any news."