Time Warner Cable in Los Angeles owns the rights to the Dodgers, but no other cable operator has been willing to pay the high asking price to carry TWC’s Dodgers channel. As a result, the Dodgers have been blacked out on most TVs in Southern California for the past two years. This year, Time Warner tried once again to cut a deal, and everyone turned them down yet again:
The company proposed cutting the carriage fee for the channel, entering into binding arbitration or signing a six-year deal — but struck out. “They’ve rejected every offer we’ve made,” Time Warner Cable spokesman Andrew Fegyveresi said Thursday.
“We’ve offered short-term deals and long-term deals, we’ve lowered the price by 30%, we’ve asked for arbitration, we’ve offered … the same thing they charge for their regional sports networks, we’ve told them we’d meet them any time, anywhere to negotiate and nothing has worked,” Fegyveresi said.
Boo hoo. They tried everything—everything, I tell you. Except, of course, for the one thing that would have worked: the right to make the Dodgers an extra-cost option, not part of basic cable. Most cable operators see no reason that every television viewer in the LA basin should have to pay 60 bucks a year more in cable fees regardless of whether or not they care about baseball.
And that’s the one thing TWC won’t do. Why? Because then it will become crystal clear just how few households actually care enough about the Dodgers to pay for them. And that would truly be a disaster beyond reckoning. There’s a limit to the amount of sports programming that people are willing to have crammed down their throats!
So what’s going to happen? Time Warner paid $8 billion for a 25-year deal to broadcast the Dodgers, and they’re taking a bath. As things stand, they could keep taking a bath for 23 more years. At some point, surely they have to cave?