Charter Cable customers will have access to SportsNet LA, the Dodgers’ regional sports network, beginning next Tuesday when the Dodgers host the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Thursday’s announcement comes against the backdrop of a proposed takeover of Time Warner Cable by Charter.
Charter’s current footprint includes large pockets of Malibu, Glendale, Long Beach and the San Gabriel Valley. The company claims approximately 350,000 subscribers in greater Southern California.
While not a panacea, it’s good news for a Dodgers fan base left frustrated from Day 1 of the company’s $8 billion local-rights deal with TWC. Here’s more from a press release issued Thursday by the Dodgers:
SportsNet LA will be available on Charter Spectrum TV Select, Charter’s most widely subscribed to tier of service, on channel 44 SD/ 789 HD in the Los Angeles DMA, channel 44 SD / 773 HD in San Luis Obispo, and channel 44 SD in Porterville. SportsNet LA’s Spanish-language game telecasts as well as its Korean-language Secondary Audio Programming (SAP) will also be made available to Charter customers.
“The Dodgers are an iconic franchise and part of the fabric of the community,” said Tom Rutledge, President and CEO of Charter Communications. “We are very excited to be bringing the Dodgers back to Charter customers in the LA area.”
“We’re thrilled that Dodger fans will now be able to watch SportsNet LA’s 24/7 Dodger programming on Charter’s systems,” said Stan Kasten, President and CEO of the Los Angeles Dodgers. “SportsNet LA continues to deliver unparalleled coverage of the Dodgers and we hope other providers come on board soon so all fans can enjoy the network’s first-rate programming.”
Nothing will change next Tuesday for local DirecTV, Dish Network and Comcast subscribers. Comcast had been trying to acquire TWC since last year, only to drop its bid last month amid steep opposition from Washington lawmakers. DirecTV and Dish Network have not been actively negotiating with TWC to carry SportsNet LA.
Charter claims to be the fourth-largest cable operator in the United States. In theory, a Charter-TWC merger would raise many of the same concerns in Congress that the Comcast-TWC proposal did.
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) issued the following statement in response to Thursday’s announcement:
“I am pleased that Charter Communications will begin carrying SportNet LA, but the work is not done yet. Too many Angelenos still won’t have access to the Dodgers because of a 14 month dispute between cable companies over how to provide Los Angeles residents with access to Los Angeles Dodgers television broadcasts.
“I am reissuing an earlier request for Time Warner Cable into enter binding arbitration with DirecTV and others. This would be a fair and fast way to return programming to consumers. Time Warner Cable has agreed to enter into the arbitration process. They have offered to make SportsNet LA available immediately to all fans upon the initiation of binding arbitration. Immediate binding arbitration is the only mechanism that will get the Dodgers games on the air now.”