There is a lot of money in sports. You only need to look at baseball to get a scale of the quantities of money sports teams and franchises regularly contend with. SportsNet LA was a regional sports network created when the Dodgers partnered with Time Warner cable. Many MLB lines enthusiasts kept a close eye on this deal because of the $8 billion involved.
The Network was only supposed to carry Dodgers games. More importantly, in order to get its money back, Time Warner Cable sought to charge TV distributors like DirecTV, Verizon FiOS, and Dish Network $4.90 per month to carry the channel.
Of course, that fee would escalate as the years went by, this making the SportsNet LA network way too expensive when all it had was dodgers games and no other entertainment program to speak of. And seeing as many distributors were already contending with high carriage fees for Prime Ticket, SportsNet and the like, it made sense that most of them balked. By 2014, Time Warner Cable was the only major network carrying SportsNet LA.
That wasn’t a good thing because Time Warner Cable’s reach, like every other major network, was limited, which means fewer people than expected were able to catch Dodgers games.
Time Warner had a bit of a break in 2015. Charter managed to acquire a sizeable chunk of Time Warner cable and, during negotiations they agreed to also carry SportsNet LA.
Most people were happy to forget this whole story, and it isn’t like that many people cared, to begin with. However, it looks like new life has been breathed into the Dodgers/Time Warner Cable story.
Apparently, there was more to the various Television Distributors rejecting SportsNet LA than the expensive carriage fee. The government has filed a lawsuit against DirecTV and AT&T.
Supposedly, these two brands drove a scheme designed to keep other distributors from accepting Time Warner Cable’s demands on SportsNet LA.
According to the government, people at DirectTV colluded with their counterparts in other cable providers, working towards rejecting SportsNet LA. The government cited communications between many of these elements which revealed the collusion behind the scenes, with people like Daniel York, DirecTV’s Chief Content Officer, frequently communicating with some of his rivals in the cable business over Time Warner Cable’s offer.
The offers Time Warner Cable made to most of these television distributors were supposed to be confidential. However, high-ranking officials in certain distributors saw fit to share their offers with one another, determining to keep communicating and advising one another over their respective offers.
These distributors realized that, by working together, they had so much leverage and, by agreeing to hold firm, they could help one another acquire the best deal possible, if not outright rejecting Time Warner’s offer completely without suffering any undue repercussions.
All the distributors involved agreed that they wouldn’t use each other’s decision to reject Time Warner’s offer to benefit from the deal and, for the most part, things worked out well for all involved.
The parties being accused here have naturally denied the charges. It is possible that this lawsuit could end the Dodgers blackout in due time.