For Dodger fans, new channel is a rude awakening

SportsNet LA personality John Hartung.
SportsNet LA personality John Hartung.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
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Most baseball fans have gotten used to having to shell out a few extra bucks to watch their team.

But for Dodger loyalists, the decision of the team to move all of its games to SportsNet LA, a pay-TV channel starting this season is something of a rude awakening. That’s because the number of games on a local broadcast station available free to viewers was far greater here than in just about every other city with a baseball team.

Last year, KCAL-TV Channel 9 carried 49 Dodger games or almost one-third of all the games. Only the Chicago Cubs had a bigger number of games on free TV with more than 70. That will likely drop dramatically if the Cubs, as expected, end up signing a deal with a Comcast-owned regional sports network there.


ON LOCATION: Where the cameras roll

In most cities, all the games are on pay-TV. Only a handful of teams still sell games to a local TV station. Those that do usually sell at most 20 games.

It’s a similar story with basketball. Most teams have moved all their games to cable. But until Time Warner Cable snagged the exclusive rights to the Lakers and launched SportsNet, about half of the team’s regular season games were on KCAL.

The primary reason Los Angeles managed avoided the trend of total migration to cable when it came to local sports for so long is that there are almost 750,000 homes in the market that still don’t have any sort of pay-TV provider. That translates to about 13% of the Los Angeles market, which is far above the national average.

Only Time Warner Cable, which has the rights to distribute the games, is carrying SportsNet LA in the market Other area distributors are resisting the channel because of the price tag Time Warner Cable is seeking. Bright House, which serves Bakersfield, is also carrying the channel. Bright House is affiliated with Time Warner Cable.

Fox Broadcasting is expected to carry three Dodger games on its national telecasts.



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