Veruca Salt wanted the golden ticket NOW to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. The four dudes from the English rock band Queen wanted it all and wanted it NOW. In our state, in our town, we want our Dodgers baseball, and we want it NOW.
Today, we’re only furious with cable and satellite providers, very disgusted without the new Dodgers’ regional sports network, SportsNet LA. The network only covers about 1.5 million subscribers in the area and 30 percent of the region, leaving roughly 70 percent of L.A. households in the dark. Dodgers fans have been held hostage by negotiations between Time Warner Cable, and other cable providers and satellite carriers such as DirecTV, Dish, Charter, Cox, AT&T U-Verse and Verizon FiOS. The TV operators aren’t even close to reaching an agreement on a deal to carry the network. So, yes, the majority of households in the Dodgers’ television market have been blacked out.
This is the only sports market in America that gets screwed by sports networks, when everybody else in every other city and state has access to the games if they subscribe to cable. This is the only sports market in America that has to wait until the local baseball team plays nationally televised games on ESPN, Fox Sports or Fox Sports 1, when everybody else in every other city and state never has to worry about missing a game.
So what we don’t know about this TV impasse makes it more chaotic, and it seems like blackouts will only continue for those who don’t have Time Warner Cable. You can forget about having your Dodgers network this season, so don’t bother losing any sleep. The absurdity will last at least until next season simply because Time Warner Cable and cable companies are far apart on a distribution deal for the new Dodgers network.
But the last thing people want to hear is that no one can negotiate and agree on a deal. The idea of missing a number of Dodgers games next season is too bad, sort of like missing a doctor’s appointment or a court appearance, unable to watch the games unless you are the lucky one. Southern Californians, in yet another difficult situation, are without Dodgers baseball and won’t hear the voice of legendary broadcaster Vin Scully.
It’s too bad the only way fans can see Dodger games is at a bar that gets the games regularly or either by switching to TWC in their homes. This is a problem because a slew of fans have not been able to find a bar that gets the games. By now, everyone in town wants their Dodgers baseball, and they want it now. Some fans are patient. Some fans are impatient — and especially if — they are paying for cable once a month, along with expensive sports packages.
What seems to matter more to the Dodgers is the annual fee that Time Warner Cable will pay the team, which starts at $210 million this season and grows throughout the contract. This happens at the damnedest time when the Dodgers have a chance to do amazing things. This happens at the worst possible time when the Dodgers are destined to reach the World Series.
It’s one of baseball’s regal teams, playing in the second-biggest media market and the third-biggest sports market, and because of this TV debacle, we can’t see Clayton Kershaw throw a perfect game, we can’t see Yasiel Puig get that big hit and we can’t see Kenley Jansen throw the 90-mph fastball to strike out the side in the 9th. I cannot watch the Dodgers on TV. I’m missing the games. It’s killing me. It’s not only killing me. It’s killing 70 percent of Los Angeles, and sadly, the team obviously cares more about pocketing its millions than giving back to a supportive fan base.
It’s all about money, folks. It’s not about appeasing a deprived fan base.
But this is the point, and it’s pretty clear: People want their Dodgers and they want them right now. To not see the Dodgers, it’s a slap in the face to fans, as money is far greater than the game itself. People are going to miss the games, and they will eventually forget that the Dodgers exist. It’s on the Dodgers for agreeing to a deal with Time Warner Cable, and then allowing them to talk the team into signing a long-term deal. It’s on the Dodgers if people here stop watching and start paying less attention — say whatever you like, but it takes the fun out of sports when it becomes about who makes top-dollar.
The Dodgers are getting paid $8.35 billion from Time Warner Cable and have launched their own channel, and it’s nearly impossible to share the new channel as distributors are balking at the price that Time Warner Cable wants to carry the network. The Dodgers could have signed a new deal with Prime Ticket for less money, and cable providers would have continued carrying the network, but the only thing more important to the team was the mean green.
People would have their Dodgers now had they stayed on Prime Ticket and Kcal 9.
You can’t blame LA sports fans. They want their Dodgers, and they want them NOW.