Tuesday, May 05, 2015

DirecTV Stuck a Knife into Time Warner Today

This afternoon DirecTV CEO Mike White tossed some kindling into a fire that has the makings of a war of words with Time Warner, and I can't help but sit here to laugh and cry about it.  With no end in sight to the Dodgers/SportsNetLA programming issues fans can only have mixed feelings whenever news surfaces.

Earlier today I came across various tweets by SportsBusiness Journal reporter Eric Fisher (thanks to retweets from DodgerBeat) regarding DirecTV's 2015 first quarter earnings conference call this afternoon.  Fisher referenced several quotes from the CEO, and they were less than kind to Time Warner.  Below is one of the tweets:
Ouch, that's gotta hurt.  If anything, it's a subtle signal to Time Warner that their previous offer for SportsNetLA is now off the table.  Their price has gone down.

Digging further, I came across an article at Variety by Cynthia Littleton about the same conference call:
“It was a reckless deal at many multiples above what anybody else would have bid, and then they tried to force consumers to pay for it,” White said. And DirecTV hasn’t been hurt much in terms of customer defections by not having a deal for the Dodgers.

“My view is we made a very fair offer and it was rejected out of hand. We haven’t lost any customers. The channel’s probably worth less to us than it was a year ago,” White said. Beyond the Dodgers’ channel, there’s a tendency among in the TV biz, White said, “to abuse customers by overpaying for stuff and then try to jam them. There’s a lot of that in this industry. It behooves all of us to be more responsible when striking these deals with sports teams, to recognize that there is a limit beyond where customers will go.”
Having a competitor bad mouth your business is a significant development, and this war of words can't be good for fans still hoping to watch the Dodgers on television.  

BTW, Time Warner held their own first quarter earnings conference call recently, and they did their mighty best to avoid the Dodger issue.  After acknowledging that SportsNetLA continues to adversely affect their balance sheet CFO Art Minson added:
With respect to the Dodgers, I'm not going to get into sort of any of the specifics – underlying assumptions in the plan. We continue to think that Dodgers product is a great product and I will leave it at that.
I have no doubt that the Dodgers are a great product, but it's becoming more clear that execution is a big problem for Time Warner.

On one hand, I'm a bit delighted at seeing a company like Time Warner being strung out over the coals.  On the other hand, all this fighting only prolongs what is already been a tiresome situation.  And, I think it's fair to say that we just want it all to end.

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