TV Answer Man, I am a cord cutter and I want to watch the best baseball team. The best! The LA Dodgers! But I don’t want to subscribe to cable or satellite dishes. What are my options? — Cliff, Manhattan Beach, California.
Cliff, I can understand your excitement. The Los Angeles Dodgers are loaded again this season and the pre-season favorite to take the NL West, if not more. Plus, SportsNet LA this year will air 30 of the 32 Dodgers spring training games plus almost every regular season game.
But watching the Dodgers from home is not as easy as it sounds in the LA market. Charter’s Spectrum TV, the largest cable TV operator in the market, has held the management rights to the Dodgers regional broadcasts since it inherited them in the Time Warner Cable deal in 2016. (TWC paid the Dodgers $8.35 billion over 25 years for the management rights to the team’s games; Charter assumed the contract when it merged with TWC.)
For several years after the TWC-Dodgers agreement, Charter Spectrum (or TWC) was the only major pay TV provider in the Los Angeles market to air the Dodgers games on SportsNet LA,, the team’s TV home. Other cable and satellite services said Charter demanded too much money to carry the channel.
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However, that changed in 2020 when AT&T (then DIRECTV’s sole owner) negotiated a carriage agreement with Charter, permitting its AT&T TV streaming service (now known as DIRECTV Stream), and DIRECTV’s satellite service, to offer SportsNet LA. For the first time, LA area fans didn’t need to subscribe to Spectrum TV to watch their hometown team.
SportsNet LA is still available on DIRECTV and DIRECTV Stream. In fact, DIRECTV Stream is the only multi-channel, live streaming service that carries it. Hulu Live, Sling TV, YouTube TV and FuboTV all do not carry SportsNet LA and its Dodgers broadcasts.
If you’re considering subscribing to DIRECTV Stream to watch the Dodgers, take note that you will need a Choice plan or above to get the channel in your programming plan. DIRECTV Stream’s Choice package costs $99.99 a month.
There is one other way to watch the Dodgers games via streaming in the LA market. You could install a VPN on your streaming device and/or router which disguises your location. That would allow you to subscribe to MLB TV for $149.99 and watch the Dodgers games in your market without blackouts. If that sounds ethically or legally sketchy, read our article on Major League Baseball’s latest position on VPNs and MLB.TV.
Cliff, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann
Phillip, you misunderstood Cliff’s question. He wants an option to watch the “best!” baseball team for FREE, i.e., without paying a dime. He doesn’t seem to understand that these top level pro leagues can’t pay their players millions by just by sending TV signals over the air to be captured by viewers’ antennae at no charge. That ship has sailed. Pay up Cliff or get yourself an AM radio.
I watch all the dodger games on Amazon prime