Time Warner Cable took a mighty swing, and missed, in its ninth-inning effort to win additional distribution for its SportsNet LA, which offers the Los Angeles Dodgers, prior to baseball’s opening day.
The cable company offered regional providers including DirecTV and Cox a 30% price cut for this season, which it calls “historic” since it’s the last one with legendary announcer Vin Scully.
But TWC says this morning that “we don’t expect any other distributors to carry SNLA by Opening Day.” Those who want to watch the Dodgers on the regional sports network “need to switch to Time Warner Cable, Charter or Bright House Networks.”
Charter picked up SportsNet LA last year after it agreed to pay $67 billion for TWC and Bright House. Federal officials are close to approving the deals, with conditions.
Other distributors have balked at the estimated $5 per subscriber per month that TWC wants. The company’s CEO Rob Marcus told investors in December that this was “one of my 2015 surprises and disappointments.”
TWC has been on the hook since 2014 when it committed $8.35 billion for a 25-year hold on Dodgers rights. But “we’re not giving up,” Marcus said at year’s end. “We’ll undoubtedly try to get back to the table, and hopefully we’ll cut deals.”
AT&T, which owns DirecTV, declined to comment.
A Cox spokesman says that broadly speaking the company still hopes for a deal “that does not burden our customers with excessive price increases.” It will “continue to work with TWC SportsNet LA to fight on behalf of all our customers, not just sports/Dodgers fans, and protect the value of the products and services we provide.”