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Time Warner Cable throws in the towel on Dodger channel negotiations

Time Warner Cable throws in the towel on Dodger channel negotiations
A television camera is trained on the field at Dodger Stadium in 2014. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Time Warner Cable has surrendered the ball.

The New York company conceded Thursday that it has failed in its efforts to win broad distribution for SportsNet LA, the TV channel owned by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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Time Warner Cable made several pitches this month to other pay-TV providers -- including AT&T's DirecTV and Cox Communications -- hoping to entice them to sign up for the Dodgers channel in time for the baseball season, which begins Monday.

The company proposed cutting the carriage fee for the channel, entering into binding arbitration or signing a six-year deal – but struck out.

"They've rejected every offer we've made," Time Warner Cable spokesman Andrew Fegyveresi said Thursday.

"We've offered short-term deals and long-term deals, we've lowered the price by 30%, we've asked for arbitration, we've offered ... the same thing they charge for their regional sports networks, we've told them we'd meet them any time, anywhere to negotiate and nothing has worked," Fegyveresi said.

Only customers of Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications and Bright House Networks have SportsNet LA in their lineups.

In its most recent offer, Time Warner Cable proposed a six-year deal with rates for SportsNet LA roughly comparable to what DirecTV charges for a regional sports channel that it owns in Seattle. The average price for that channel, Root Sports Northwest, is $3.84 a month, per subscriber home, according to consulting firm SNL Kagan.

AT&T, which acquired DirecTV last summer, declined to comment.

AT&T, Cox Communications and the other providers refused Time Warner Cable's invitation to restart negotiations, frustrating thousands of Dodger fans who had hoped that the two-year impasse would be resolved so they could enjoy Dodger games and Hall of Fame announcer Vin Scully's final year in the broadcast booth.

But another company is warming up in the bullpen. Charter is waiting for approval from federal and state regulators to take over operations of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks later this spring.

The $67-billion deal would make Charter the largest pay-TV provider in Southern California with more than 2 million customer homes. If the deal goes through, as expected, Charter also would inherit the ruckus over distribution of SportsNet LA.

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