Q. Will DIRECTV carry SportsNet LA this year. I’m getting tired of not being able to watch the Dodgers at home. Enough already! If they are not going to carry it, can you please tell me why? — Wayne, Venice, California.
Wayne, I wish I had good news for you, but it looks like another season will go by this year with SportsNet LA not on DIRECTV, or any other major pay TV service, for that matter.
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(Except, of course, for Charter, which has the obligatory duty to carry the channel because it owns its management rights for the next two decades.)
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Charter this week issued a press release that said: “SportsNet LA and Dodgers games are exclusively available on Charter’s Spectrum service and other distributors are not expected to carry SportsNet LA this season.”
To help soften that blow, Charter did reveal in the release that five games in April will air on KTLA, but that’s cold comfort for fans who want every game on the air.
As you know, DIRECTV and the other large pay TV operators in the Los Angeles market have not carried SportsNet LA since its launch in 2014. They say Charter (and Time Warner Cable before that; TWC had the management rights until it merged with Charter in 2016) is asking for excessive carriage fees.
Charter has denied that its fees, which have never been disclosed, are significantly higher than the industry norm. But it wouldn’t be surprising if they were.
Time Warner Cable agreed to pay the Dodgers $8.35 billion over 25 years to manage the channel. That was a record-breaking deal and Charter needs to offset the expenditure with record-breaking carriage fees.
Of course, they haven’t received those fees yet, but if they were to lower their demands now, it would likely lead to smaller fees throughout the 25-year contract. And that would ultimately make the deal a huge financial loser.
So Charter is holding out in the hopes that the pay TV operators will one day conclude they must pay the high fees to prevent serious subscriber defections. That hasn’t happened yet, and it may never.
You might be thinking that a live streaming service, such as Sling TV or PlayStation Vue, will eventually carry SportsNet LA. The problem there is that Charter’s carriage fee is way too high for them. The live streamers charge less for monthly subscriptions than their cable and satellite counterparts so they don’t have the revenue to add a costly regional sports channel like SportsNet LA.
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I do wonder if Charter will provide an Over-The-Top version of SportsNet L.A., if this stalemate goes long enough. I’m sure it would involve reconfiguring their broadcast agreement, but Charter already provides a stream of the channel over their own secured network to their own subscribers.
How is Charter able to pay the Dodgers management when they have a limited amount of viewers seeing their ads. If the products aren’t being seen the sales will not be that high for the products.
Time Warner Cable agreed to the payments and charter assumed the contract when it bought TWC.
Way to go TWC! First you raise your rates and force subscribers to choose alternate less costly ways to get services. Sound like they are holding Directv viewers for ransom. Maybe the FCC should be long into TWC business practices. BOO and shame on you, TWC!