LA Dodgers are #1, but 70% of Fans Can’t Access Their Games on TV

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Time Warner Cable, DirecTV at Odds Over Arbitration

  • Dodgers Time Warner TV Dispute
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

.JULY 29, 2014 | 10:31AM PT

by Ted Johnson, Variety Senior Editor 

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DirecTV isn’t saying whether it would agree to binding arbitration in an effort to resolve the impasse with Time Warner Cable over rights to the Dodgers TV channel.

Instead, in a statement issued on Tuesday, the satcaster is once again pushing Time Warner Cable to agree to a deal in which DirecTV could offer the SportsNet LA channel ala carte to its customers.

Last year, Time Warner Cable entered into a 25-year agreement valued at more than $8 billion with the Dodgers to distribute SportsNet LA, but their inability to reach carriage agreements with other multichannel distributors has left about 70% of the region unable to access the games.

“Rather than force everyone to bail Time Warner Cable out, the simplest solution is to enable only those who want to pay to see the remaining Dodgers games to do so at the price Time Warner Cable wants to set,” DirecTV said in a statement.

Time Warner Cable and the Dodgers clearly see that the proposal to enter into binding arbitration —advanced by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) and other area lawmakers on Monday — has advantages in ending the dispute. “We prefer to reach agreements through private business negotiations, but given the current circumstance, we are willing to agree to binding arbitration and to allow DirecTV customers to watch the Dodgers games while the arbitration is concluded,” Time Warner Cable said in a statement on Monday night.

Yet competitors have characterized Time Warner Cable as trying to pass off the costs of the Dodgers rights to all customers, even those who don’t plan on watching the channel. An ala carte deal would likely return far less revenue to TWC and the team, or it would be priced so high as to further anger fans with memories of once watching games on free over-the-air TV. TWC has argued that the bundling of regional sports channels with other channels is standard industry practice, what may be an important point to an arbitration judge.

READ MORE HERE AT THE VARIETY WEBSITE.

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