As of Thursday morning, the Los Angeles Dodgers had pulled within three games of the San Francisco Giants in the NL West standings, won a game in dramatic fashion and had Clayton Kershaw throw his first career- no-hitter.
The Dodgers are essentially at the midway point of their season, 44-36 overall, yet most still have not seen but a handful of Dodger games in their entirety. Time Warner Cable and other cable providers remain at odds over terms to distribute SportsNet LA, the network dedicated to the Dodgers. TWC services roughly 30 percent of the Los Angeles area, which has left a significant number of fans in the dark.
Despite what public perception may be, controlling owner Mark Walter recently claimed negotiations were on-going. Team president and CEO Stan Kasten, who warned that DirecTV would not offer SportsNet LA to its customers, shared his frustration over the situation, via Bill Plunkett of the OC Register:
I just don’t want to discuss that,” he said. “Disappointed, for sure. This is something we literally work on every single day of our lives.”
Kasten also added the situation is complex and believes it’s best to handle matters behind closed doors:
All I can tell you is it’s very complicated with a number of different parties,” Kasten said. I think there are many reasons why. But because there is so much going on behind the scenes, we have decided to just not say anything publicly. In my experience with complicated negotiations, public statements – particularly inflammatory ones – do not aid in getting to a resolution. And all that concerns me now is getting to a positive resolution – more than getting a few points in the media by making some statements.”
It’s a common occurrence for cable providers to be at odds over distribution rights, which is what took place when TWC partnered with the Los Angeles Lakers to launch Time Warner Cable SportsNet. However, the amount of time that has since gone by is somewhat unprecedented.
A similar situation has occurred in Houston, where some Astros fans remained blacked out because of a second season of limited availability of the regional sports network that carries the Astros.
As a result of the dispute, radio ratings have increased and so too has attendance. However, some of the blame has shifted away from the cable providers and onto the Dodgers.
While the partnership was an unquestionably lucrative deal and in line with the trend of sports television, the Dodgers will continue to be in danger of unintentionally orchestrating a public relations nightmare as fans begin to grow more impatient.
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