As the Dodgers' TV blackout extends into its fifth month, this theory has been floated: The Dodgers are at risk of losing fans for good. We heard a similar theory during the final months of the Frank McCourt ownership, when fans essentially boycotted games at Dodger Stadium.
In both cases, the theory has been proved to be poppycock. As soon as McCourt sold the team, the Dodgers reclaimed their crown as National League attendance leaders. And, thanks to this week's broadcasts of the Dodgers-Angels series on Fox Sports West, we can tell that Dodgers fans have not turned on their team.
Instead, Dodgers fans turned on their television sets, in numbers the Angels never have seen during their 22-year run on FSW. As word spread among Dodgers fans that they could see their team on local television, the FSW ratings increased every night during this week's four-game series.
On Wednesday, the FSW broadcast attracted 269,000 households, a record that lasted 24 hours. On Thursday, the FSW broadcast attracted 272,000 households. The previous record for an Angels game on FSW: 265,000 households, for a 1998 game against the Dodgers.
In all, the four games this week ranked as four of the five most-watched games in the Angels' history on FSW.
The number of households watching the average Angels game on FSW this season: 84,000 -- meaning the lure of the Dodgers on Thursday increased the average viewership by 224%.
Neither the Dodgers nor Time Warner Cable, partners on the Dodgers' new SportsNet LA channel, holds out much hope for the channel to become widely available this season.
It is uncertain whether the overwhelming demand evidenced in the Angels' television ratings might prompt DirecTV to make a deal, but one fan who called DirecTV on Friday to complain about the absence of SportsNet LA said she was offered a free Sunday Ticket NFL package, worth $240 this year. TWC previously offered DirecTV customers $300 to switch.