ESPN decision to not air Dodgers’ opener adds to social media frustration

Vin Scully opens the Monday telecast of the Dodgers' first game of the season in San DIego on SportsNet L.A.

Vin Scully opens the Monday telecast of the Dodgers’ first game of the season in San DIego on SportsNet L.A.

ESPN apologized Monday for a misunderstanding about its plans to black out or show alternative programming instead of airing the Dodgers’ season opener at San Diego.

Only those L.A. customers of Time Warner Cable and Charter Cable with access to SportsNet LA could see the 4 p.m. game Monday with the call of Vin Scully, who is starting what he believes will be his final season.

Many who do not have TWC or Charter and planned to watch the game on ESPN took to social media to vent frustration, unaware the blackout was set months in advanced.

The public outcry adds to the long-running noise over TWC’s struggle for full distribution of SNLA on services like DirecTV, AT&T, Cox, Comcast or Verizon FiOS.

SNLA starts the third season of carrying live Dodgers games with less than 60 percent of the city able to access the channel.

ESPN had been promoting for weeks that it would carry this game as part of its Monday Opening Day schedule, with the top broadcast team of Dan Shulman, Aaron Boone and Jessica Mendoza. The game was shown live to the San Diego TV market.

Those with TWC and Charter service also were not able to see the Dodgers-Padres on their ESPN feed.

ESPN can be exclusive or co-exist in a local TV market 10 times a season. With the Dodgers’ case, half of those telecasts are often a Sunday night exclusive broadcast. It usually saves the other five games for later in the season.

Lon Rosen, the Dodgers Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, said Monday that it was his understanding that  ESPN had the option to lift a blackout but decided not to for this game. He said the team did know about the blackout being in effect for this opener.

The Dodgers official website, which is programmed by MLB, showed that both SNLA and ESPN would be televising the game, which also led to confusion.

Meanwhile, the Angels’ home opener against the Chicago Cubs from Angel Stadium on Monday night was to air live on ESPN2, in competition with Fox Sports West. The network, however, decided to black it out in Chicago on ESPN2.

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