Wednesday, March 30, 2016

You Should Expect No Expanded SportsNet LA Coverage Any Time Soon

The very public negotiations ongoing in the Time Warner/SportNet LA talks with other carriers is rather strange. 

Last week we got word that Time Warner was back at the negotiation table.  They had lowered their asking price for the Dodgers SportsNet LA channel to a more reasonable level - at roughly $3.50 per month per subscriber.

Then, a stream of public releases from the LA Mayor, the Dodgers President Stan Kasten and MLB Commissioner Manfred came to the forefront.  Following that was an outpouring of disdain from the chattering classes at the unseemliness of evoking Vin Scully's name in this process. Combine that with the notion that the current offer on the table was for only a one-year deal and you have a potential brewing problem.

Now, that problem is bordering on a disaster.  According to Meg James at the LA Times there are currently no carriers in the Southland willing to take the initial offer from Time Warner, and it appears that the one-year timeframe is to blame:
Pay-TV operators privately acknowledged that they were wary of signing a one-year deal with Time Warner Cable. They worried that the price of the channel would soar within a couple of years so that Time Warner Cable could recoup some of the costs of its expensive arrangement with the Dodgers' owners.
Time Warner Cable now is offering a six-year deal. The first year would be offered at the lower $3.50-a-month introductory price, with a slightly higher rate in subsequent years, according to one person familiar with the proposal who asked not to be identified discussing sensitive deal points.
It seems to me the squeeze is on, and it's the competing carriers who have all the momentum.  Based on the below snippet, carriers might be betting that they can get an even better deal if they wait.
There are several reasons the other pay-TV providers continue to refuse to play ball. One is that Time Warner Cable is in the process of being acquired by another firm, Charter Communications, and some providers are waiting to see whether Charter offers the channel at an even lower rate.
And that's the gist of it.  The competitors know that Time Warner is bleeding money, and they figure why bother with the opening salvo when what's coming down the pike will be even better. 

At this point I think it is clear that there will be no expansion of coverage by the start of the Baseball season.  Heck, as I've stated in the past, this might not happen until the proposed merger is closed; which is slated to happen by mid-season.

Oy Vey!  What a cluster F---!

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* Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *

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