Charter Communications plans to soon begin offering the Los Angeles Dodgers TV channel, SportsNet LA, in Southern California, breaking the year-long impasse that has prevented thousands of baseball fans from watching their favorite team on TV.
"We are going to get the Dodgers on," Charter Communications Chief Executive Tom Rutledge said Tuesday morning in an interview with the L.A. Times.
"We want the Dodgers on every outlet and we are committed to making that happen," Rutledge said.
Rutledge's company on Tuesday morning announced its $56.7-billion takeover of Time Warner Cable, which has been the only major distributor in Southern California to carry SportsNet LA since it launched at the start of the 2014 baseball season.
For now, Rutledge only has control over his company's decisions, and Charter must wait until after the merger is approved to make more sweeping changes.
But the move is significant. Until now, Charter has been one of several pay-TV companies that has refused to carry SportsNet LA, which is owned by the Dodgers.
Charter customers in Glendale, Burbank, Malibu, Long Beach and other regions will have SportsNet LA within a few weeks, Rutledge said. He added that his company will have to take a hard look at the channel's finances and its contract.
Charter has nearly 300,000 subscribers in the region.
The move does not guarantee that DirecTV, AT&T U-Verse, Cox Communications, Dish Network or Verizon will begin offering the channel. But Charter's switch could put pressure on the other providers to pick up the channel.
Time Warner Cable, which has a long-term, $8.35-billion contract with the Dodgers to distribute the channel, applauded the move.
Thousands of new subscribers in the Los Angeles area soon will be able to watch Dodger games. The move also should generate additional revenue for the channel, which would help Time Warner Cable offset some of its sizeable losses on its investment.
“Charter is committed to carrying SportsNet LA as soon as possible," said Time Warner Cable spokesman Andrew Fegyveresi. "We're excited for Charter customers to enjoy the network's games and in-depth programming.”