The Dodgers were knocked out of the playoffs two seasons in a row, and Dodger fans may be shut out of games for the second season in a row as well. While the corporations merge and muddle the television programming media landscape, the lost Dodger fans are mere bystanders still waiting for SportsNet LA to be broadcast through their television providers at a reasonable cost. Clayton Kershaw may be on his next Cy Young season, yet Dodger fans may not be able to witness the games from their living room for another frustratingly blacked out season.
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times wrote that a resolution to the federal government’s review of the merger between Comcast and Time Warner may not be coming anytime soon.
Mark Walter, the Chairman of the Dodgers, is “very concerned.”
Fans are bitter and frustrated.
The merger between Time Warner Cable and Comcast is still not approved. Photoshop: Stacie Wheeler
The Federal Communications Commission has delayed the merger approval twice already, and Opening Day is just weeks away with Spring Training beginning in 32 days.
Negotiations have stalled in hopes of expanding inclusion of SportsNet LA throughout Southern California as the media giants work toward becoming the ultimate Voltron within their industry. The mergers in themselves seem like a recipe for increased cost for the customer, less-than-stellar customer service and ultimately less choice in the overall media and television cable industry.
Of course the Dodgers got their $8.35-billion from their contract with Time Warner Cable, and they do not look to renegotiate or somehow persuade the other providers to carry SportsNet LA by absorbing some of the cost which the providers look to charge their customers. While some blame the Dodgers for their exorbitant deal with TWC and the subsequent fallout which shut out a majority of Dodger fans from being able to watch games on television, the bigger concern I have is the decreased market for consumers within the media industry in the light of all these mergers.
The cable provider choices for consumers is already thin, and with the eventual TWC-Comcast merger, the monopolistic outlook across the media industry will create an even less diverse marketplace. This has caused a shift toward online streaming (whether legal or illegal), and many households are going without traditional cable altogether as new viewing venues and options are being created in order to bypass the high costs associated with commercialized broadcasting.
AT&T and DirecTV could consolidate sooner, but the Comcast-TWC merger could still not be finalized by Opening Day in April. While fans wait for the faceless conglomerates to hash out their consolidation schemes, SportsNet LA will continue to broadcast Dodger games to the relatively few who can actually watch them.
Baseball has been replaced by bureaucracy and big government in Southern California. The blame game can be exhausting. Even though the Dodgers made a record amount of money off the TWC deal, the continued SportsNet LA stalemate is systemic of a much larger problem surrounding the decrease in competition between these large media corporations as they eventually merge into even larger entities. While the Rule of 3 still is an observable business facet in the corporate world which still lends itself to creativity and competition within different markets, it has eroded into a very cut throat landscape. These business sects may eventually end up funneling into just one gigantic and all encompassing corporation.
As consumers we need to make our voices heard even if that means abandoning traditional cable amidst all the increasing costs and frustrating black outs. As the consumers steer away from high cable costs, new viewing venues will come to fruition in order to meet that demand.
We demand our Dodgers.