Less than three weeks out from the official launch of the Dodgers’ SportsNet L.A., and, for one reason or a few, only Time Warner Cable, its multi-billion dollar business partner, is the only one committed to carrying it. On a channel number it still hasn’t announced.
The delay in other cable and dish systems climbing aboard is both typical business practice and likely disconcerting to fans who worry themselves over how these things play out while trying to balance the pros and cons of keeping their current provider.
The reported $5 per subscriber fee for SportsNet L.A. that’s been knocked around the media won’t not be confirmed by Dodger team sources, who are confident that TWC, in charge of working the distribution deals, will handle the fair value of the channel in deals they plan on cutting.
Other reports is that fee could rise to $8 a few years into the agreement, making it by far the most expensive regional sports network. MSG, which has both the NBA’s New York Knicks and NHL’s New York Rangers, charges about $5 for both of its channels.
The Yankees’ YES network, which is shares with the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, goes for just $3 a sub.
TWC’s major bargaining hurdle may be in trying to get this Dodgers channel on an expanded basic cable and not put on a separate sports tier where customers can pay more for the products offered.
If there’s any blue print for how this will play out — TWC’s launch of the current TWC SportsNet, which came on just weeks before the Lakers’ first regular-season game, went right up the wire with most cable and dish providers before they relented.
The Dodgers have a month’s worth of spring training games starting Feb. 26, with a break for a trip to open the season in Australia on March 20. Consider missing that three-game series a real indication that a cable or dish provider is really standing its ground. After the Dodgers return for the three-game exhibition series in Southern California against the Angels, the regular season resumes Sunday March 30 in San Diego.
Regular season games resume with two more in San Diego before the home opener against San Francisco on Friday afternoon, April 4.
Dodgers executive vice president and chief marketing officer Lon Rosen would only say the team was in “active negotiations with all distributors” and it’s an “ongoing process,” while directing fans to the www.INeedMyDodgers.com website for the time being.
You know, to make their voices heard. Because added agitation always works well in this situation.
“The excitement and immense support we’ve had has been remarkable for the channel,” Rosen said. “We have faith in choosing Time Warner Cable are our partner and we know know Dodger fans will be clamming for all the content that will be offered on fair terms.”
The team has dressed up a truck to take around to “caravan” events this winter, including the Dodgers Fan Fest last Saturday at the Dodger Stadium parking lot, giving out hot dogs and passing out info on SportsNet L.A.’s existence.
The Dodgers have already announced that former stars Orel Hershiser and Nomar Garciaparra will be involved in broadcasting games and studio shows, as well as being paired with Rick Monday on radio coverage. Charley Steiner is the play-by-play man who will go on the road to do games with either Hershiser or Garciaparra when Vin Scully stays home. Former KABC-Channel 7 John Hartung will host a nightly studio show.
Meanwhile, Scully visited the Time Warner Cable studios in El Segundo on Wednesday to meet with employees.