For the second straight year, it appears a majority of fans in the region won’t be able to watch Kershaw, Puig, Gonzalez et al. when the games begin because of an ongoing pricing dispute between Time Warner – The Dodgers cable partner – and other television providers.
The Dodgers’ 25-year, $8 billion dollar deal with Time Warner is the richest in the baseball history., and it’s helped push the team’s value to an estimated $2.4 billion, second only to the New York Yankees. On the other hand, its inability to sell SportNet L.A. to other providers is apparently costing Time Warner hundreds of millions of dollars. Pending mergers between Time Warner and Comcast, and DirecTV and AT&T are complicating the impasse. The Dodgers have been mostly silent – other than issuing some hollow statements urging a resolution and downplaying the team’s responsibility for the television boondoggle.
But all that’s of little interest to most fans. They are focused on the fact that when the Dodgers take the field Monday against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium for Opening Day, they won’t be able to hear Vin Scully call the game on TV.
David Carter, executive Director of the Sports Business Institute at USC’;s Marshall School of Business, says Time Warner and the Dodgers have put themselves in a difficult predicament, with no easy way out: