We found out yesterday that Time Warner dropped the price carriers would have to pay to carry SportsNetLA for the first time ever and today, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred weighed in on the subject, given this new information.
In terms of news, this was certainly interesting, as MLB (who one would imagine is a partner with DirectTV as well as other carriers) made a fairly strong statement, putting the onus on DirecTV to do something.
Here is the official statement from Manfred, via official MLB release.
“The distribution dispute involving DirecTV, AT&T, COX and Verizon has gone on too long. The Dodgers’ massive fan base deserves to be able to watch Dodger games regardless of their choice of provider. The situation is particularly acute given that this is Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully’s final season. Time Warner has made a significant economic move that I hope will be accepted by the providers.”
Not only that, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued this statement about negotiations.
That last sentence makes this news. Up until he mentions the significant economic move, this is more wishing for a resolution, but by bringing up the price drop, he’s pretty directly calling out the carriers.
As he should, really. Time Warner has taken their brunt of blame in all this (as they should to a certain extent), but somewhat unfairly. Somehow forgotten has been how DirecTV and other carriers simply will not negotiate with Time Warner, which seems fairly immature, given what’s at stake.
Sure, other carriers have the leverage, but the unfortunate thing is their leverage comes in the form of Dodgers fans who remain unable to watch the games. Aiding in their leverage are the multi-year contracts people sign up for, which, again, feels like those simply interested in watching their favorite baseball team play are being taken advantage of.
While it’s unclear whether this price drop will actually get DirecTV back to the negotiating table we can be certain of one thing: MLB is pretty sick of hearing about this and his latest statement puts the ball pretty squarely in DirecTV’s court.
It isn’t like he’s asking for all that much: Just approach the bargaining table again and stop using fans as leverage in a corporate issue.