Will Dodger Fans Experience A TV Black Out Again In 2015?


Dodgers President Stan Kasden was asked about the fact that Time Warner Cable held exclusive rights to Dodgers television broadcasting, effectively creating a TV black out for Los Angeles Dodger fans who were not TWC subscribers. His answer?

"“We remain optimistic that in short order we’re going to have full (TV) coverage throughout the market because it’s something this incredibly deep and loyal fan base wants to have.” – Dodgers President Stan Kasden"

Can you guess when those happy words were spoken by Optimistic Stan? Do you think he said that last week? Last month? Perhaps he said that shortly after the Dodgers ended their 2014 televised season in a disappointing fashion? Nope, nope, and nope.

Optimistic Stan said that way back in March, during Spring Training. As it turned out, there was no full coverage of the Dodgers for Opening Day, 2014 and still none by the All-Star break.

Josh Beckett and Clayton Kershaw‘s no-hitters came and went, Dee Gordon stole more bases than anyone in baseball, Matt Kemp resurrected Beast Mode, a dramatic Dodgers’ climb from the cellar to the penthouse took place for the second season in a row, Vin Scully gifted us one more magical summer, and it all went unseen by 70% of the Los Angeles television market. All of that despite more statements from Kasten and even Magic Johnson about how they were “doing everything they can” to get the Dodgers on TV for the fans.

TWC paid $8.3 billion to the Dodgers for those exclusive television rights. They gambled that all of the other cable and satellite suppliers would simply pay up in order to broadcast the Dodgers over their networks. They lost that bet when Direct TV would not cave in and refused to pay off. The other TV suppliers held off as well, making TWC lay in the bed it made, and they took a huge loss in the first year of their exclusive TV deal.

What was great for holding the line against ever-rising, ridiculous cable and sports programming costs, was lousy for Dodger fans, who suffered a TV black out that lasted just about all season long. TWC eventually  tossed a crumb to the masses and allowed local station KDOC to broadcast the final six games of the season, and Vin Scully was finally able to watch the team he’s broadcast for over 50 years in his own living room.

So what’s in store for the Dodgers, television and 2015? Are the Guggenheim Partners still doing “everything they can” for the fans? Nobody knows for sure at this point because nobody’s talking.

We do know that TWC is increasing costs for their subscribers by tacking on a new monthly “sports programming fee” of $2.75 starting January 1, 2015. They’re citing rising costs in sports programming that are increasing dramatically. Ummm….perhaps those costs would not rise so dramatically if they wouldn’t make record-breaking, $8.3 billion bids to deliver those same sports products.

Since TWC is charging their subscribers $2.75 a piece, how much do you think they’ll charge outside companies to share in broadcasting the Dodgers? They can’t be thinking of charging less than they charge their own customers, so it’s quite possible they’ll charge others anywhere from $3.75 to $4.50 per subscriber for the privilege of carrying the Dodgers.

If your cable TV provider pays $4 (or more) per viewer to TWC for the right to broadcast the Dodgers, how much do you think they’ll charge you? Does $5 (or more) per month sound about right?

As a true-blue Dodger fan you might be quite willing to pay an extra $5 per month on top of your present cable bill. The problem is there are a lot of cable TV customers who don’t watch sports, already feel overburdened by paying for a multitude of channels they don’t watch, and are going to balk loudly at the possibility of heaping yet another $5 surcharge on top of their already high cable bills. And this scenario is going to play out across numerous cable and satellite TV providers. It’s hard to see any of this going down smoothly.

I wonder what Optimistic Stan has to say about all of this?