Charter's first telecast of Dodgers game scores big TV ratings

TV viewership more than doubled for Dodgers game in inaugural telecast on Charter cable systems in L.A.

Television viewership soared for Tuesday’s Los Angeles Dodgers baseball game in the inaugural telecast for the team-owned TV channel on Charter Communications cable systems.

Ratings for the game on SportsNet LA more than doubled compared with this season’s average. Tuesday’s contest, in which the Dodgers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-1, drew a 1.31 household TV rating and an estimated 103,871 TV viewers.

That is more than double the average viewership for SportsNet LA this year.

Before Tuesday, Dodger games had been averaging a 0.63 household rating and an estimated 45,535 viewers a game -- a smaller audience than what typically turns out for a game at Dodger Stadium.

After holding out for more than 14 months, Charter Communications agreed this month to begin offering SportsNet LA in its channel lineup.

Charter’s change in strategy came after it unveiled its nearly $57-billion deal to acquire Time Warner Cable, which until recently had been the only major pay-TV operator in Southern California to carry SportsNet LA.

Charter was motivated to begin offering the baseball games as the company seeks to build goodwill for its proposed takeover, which would make it the largest pay-TV company in Southern California.

The Stamford, Conn., cable provider did not want to antagonize Southern California customers or politicians who have expressed frustration about the stalemate over distribution of SportsNet LA.

Charter's shift represented the first break in the logjam that has prevented hundreds of thousands of homes in the region from having regular access to Dodger games.

Charter serves nearly 300,000 homes in the Los Angeles region, including in Long Beach, Glendale, Burbank, parts of Pasadena, Malibu, Whittier and Riverside.

Charter customers were particularly hard-hit by the Dodger channel impasse because they had limited options. They could not switch to Time Warner Cable because that company does not provide service in areas served by Charter.

Time Warner Cable, which agreed to pay the Dodgers’ organization $8.35-billion over 25 years for the rights to distribute the channel, has lost hundreds of millions of dollars on its SportsNet LA contract after failing to persuade other providers to distribute the network.

Pay-TV providers including DirecTV, Dish Network, Cox Communications, Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-Verse have refused to carry SportsNet LA, citing its high cost. It is one of the most expensive regional sports networks in the country, priced at as much as $4.90 per month per subscriber home, according to consulting firm SNL Kagan.

Guggenheim Baseball Management owns the SportsNet LA channel.

The huge jump in TV viewership on Tuesday was noteworthy because the Dodger game ran opposite a highly rated NBA championship series game on ABC between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors.

In addition, Time Warner Cable has four times the subscriber homes as does Charter, which suggests that Charter customers were starved for Dodgers baseball or there might be a higher concentration of Dodger fans in neighborhoods served by Charter.

Twitter: @MegJamesLAT

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