The Los Angeles Dodgers partnership with Time Warner Cable to launch SportsNet LA ahead of the 2014 season was a grandiose concept that unfortunately never quite gained traction. TWC’s attempts to negotiate with other cable providers were unsuccessful, leaving fans in the dark.
Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten said at the Winter Meetings he expects a resolution by Opening Day of the 2015 season, however for that to be the case, hurdles outside of the Dodgers’ and cable providers’ control need to be cleared.
By most accounts, agreements on SportsNet LA carriage rights isn’t expected to come until multiple mergers are complete. According to Bill Shaikin of the LA Times, the pending approval of the merger between TWC and Comcast leaves a tight window for an agreement to be reached, and that’s if there isn’t another delay:
The Federal Communications Commission has until March 30 — six days before the Dodgers’ season opener — to approve or reject a merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable. The FCC has delayed the proceedings twice and could do so again.
As for the AT&T and DirecTV merger, it’s only slightly ahead:
The AT&T-DirecTV consolidation is on a slightly faster track, with the FCC timeline scheduled to end March 23.
The current landscape is one that is weighing on Dodgers controlling owner Mark Walter:
I’m very concerned,” Dodgers Chairman Mark Walter said Thursday, at the conclusion of baseball’s owners’ meetings.
With the Dodgers locked in a pennant race down the stretch of the season, TWC made the final six regular-season games available on KDOC, an independent station that is carried by all providers in Southern California and can be received with an over the air antenna.
The six games included a three-game set against the San Francisco Giants, which the Dodgers took two of three to clinch a second-straight NL West division title. While the decision to launch their own network was certainly a lucrative one for the Dodgers, it’s come with more headaches than anticipated.