Lawsuit Reveals Devious Scheme Behind Dodgers Blackout in Southern California

SportsnetLA

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.

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27 thoughts on “Lawsuit Reveals Devious Scheme Behind Dodgers Blackout in Southern California

  1. Interesting article.

    Guest Author: “There is a lot of money in sports.”

    I say, all things are relative. Looks to me that the “lot of money in sports” is dwarfed by the “lot of money in “entertainment content”. So FAZ/Dodgers were up against DirecTV and AT&T? Doesn’t surprise me. All those on this board blaming FAZ/Dodgers for the “cable problem” in LA were wrong again! FAZ/Dodgers are just a pimple on AT&T’s ass!

    1. I don’t know know who here was blaming FAZ for anything to do with the TV deal as the deal was done before FAZ had anything to do with the Dodgers. Perhaps it can be said that I had it wrong me blaming TWC for holding Dodgers ransom, which is true in any sense. The collusion part of Directv and AT&T I’m pretty sure that’s in the unspoken common and thus is there’s more than one place for blame. I hate TWC and I even hate FOX, though I was far happier with Prime Ticket being the ticket. If I had any blame against Dodgers it would be in the aftermath for being quiet about the issue when it arose after qetting their $.

  2. After what happened with the Lakers, these companies were Leary to make the same type of offer, for the Dodgers.

    Because a teams popularity is mostly based on there success, and these companies were afraid to give to much to the Dodgers, after seeing the Lakers viewing audience going down, after they were not winning.

  3. Just sent the email below to Scott asking for a couple of of upgrades on the site. He might be more inclined to do this if several more of you send similar emails letting him know it would be a popular enhancement.

    There are a couple of upgrades you can get for this website that I’m sure will be appreciated by the users and cost nothing but a little time to install them from WordPress.
    1. Enable posters to post photos from their own hard drives.
    2. Enable posters to have the Block/Ignore option. That is to designate postings from certain posters to be blocked on their (only their) computers. This feature saves a lot of fighting and having people leave the board in a huff.
    These two things would probably increase traffic and definitely help retain posters.

  4. Nothing consequential will come of it – possibly fines and fans will pay those.

    Box, who was it that said the cable issue was FAZ’s fault? I don’t recall that. Did you make that up?

    If so….. could that statement be considered ……….

    Illicit major – a categorical syllogism that is invalid because its major term is not distributed in the major premise but distributed in the conclusion.

    Either that or maybe ‘argument from ignorance’, a legal term that is kinda self explanatory. Rick will know.

    I’ve been landscaping- any other news?

    1. Thanks Badgerdamus, didn’t know your clairvoyant abilities extended to the courts. How did you come to that conclusion $.0538? Too funny!

      “You don’t recall” anyone saying the cable issue was FAZ’s fault? You sound like Crooked Hillary being questioned about her emails and the Clinton Foundation. Quit the hero worshiping, and do some homework if you are interested in which posters blamed FAZ for no cable TV. Mark and I tried, very hard, to straighten those posters out on how selling broadcast rights work.

  5. Since I no longer live in LA this really does not affect me. My sister lives in Carson and is able to get Time/Warner and the Dodger games. But I have many friends there who have not been able to do that.

    1. My in-laws are in OC, and it’s been a nuisance factor, but they got over it. I think my bro in law found a way around it, the rest don’t much care.

      1. They may be able to get a Conspiracy charge but it’s bogus, from a moral point of view, TWC is dead wrong. They are trying to get Direct and the other cable companies TO REQUIRE EVERY ONE OF THEIR SUBSCRIBERS to pay the $5 a month for the Dodger station. That is dead wrong. We all know that more than 95% of the people out there have ZERO interest in the Dodgers, and expecting them to pay for something they don’t want is unconscionable. Here’s a counter offer, TWC: Let everybody who wants the channel subscribe (individually, not Direct or a whole cable system) for $10 a month, twice what you’re claiming to ask. They will not pursue this bogus lawsuit, the Supreme Court would laugh them out of the building.

        1. Wondering

          That is not true, because the rest of these networks will have the same problem, when there contracts come up, and they will expect the other networks to pay a fee too.

          All of these networks have certain sports contracts.

          It is all of the networks, that insist on doing this, and they all don’t want to give there customers that option, of only having the channels they want.

          1. MJ, this is the first skirmish in a battle that is eventually going to end up in the Supreme Court. Cable and satellite companies are meeting resistance from their subscribers right now on this very subject.
            http://faculty.msb.edu/homak/homahelpsite/WebHelp%2004-27-15/Content/Cable_TV_a_la_Carte_WSJ_05-03.htm
            https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20150508/06131430933/cable-execs-refuse-to-offer-better-tv-bundle-options-because-consumers-already-enjoy-all-value-they-can-handle.shtml
            http://arstechnica.com/business/2015/06/want%C2%AD-a-lower-comcast-bill-complain-to-the-fcc/
            Streaming is fast becoming a more attractive option to cable subscription and the falling membership numbers will force cable companies to resist signing onto the over-priced sports channel groups. I wanted the Dodger channel when it first came out and for awhile I encouraged Dish Network to sign up for it, it sounded reasonable enough to me. One day I read an explanation of why Dish and Direct and others were fighting it and I couldn’t disagree with them. It would be totally unacceptable to me to force thousands of other subscribers to pay $5 a month just so I could watch the Dodgers. Since then I support Dish and Direct 100%. They are fighting for us. As near as I can determine from Wikipedia, Dish and Direct have a combined 34 million subscribers!!! Multiply that by $5 and by 12 months, I get $2,04,000,000 a year. That is TWO BILLION DOLLARS PLUS that TWC wants, the subscribers be damned. Apparently you can afford your share of that, about $60 a year, I could too but I no longer give TV any money at all. I hope TWC goes bankrupt, and if it has any negative effect on the bloated Dodger ownership, that’s fine with me too.

      2. I subscribe to MLB.COM and get all the Dodger games except those against the Rockies and the games ESPN and FOX pick up. I can watch those games about an hour after they are finished. I got rid of cable a long time ago and use a ROKU to stream my TV. So I do not get the Rockies stuff on ROOT sports. I watch most of the games so missing a few does not really sting much. I can listen to the radio stream when I do not get the TV.

        1. Wondering

          Yes these providers all have these different sports networks, and this was the first time that they all rallied against TWC.

          But the Lakers channel, was the reason they did this this time.

          Dish has a major college sports network, and so do the others.

          Once those contracts come up, we will see what happens.

          The Laker channel the year before, all of these providers initially didn’t sign up, they did after a few weeks, so they were all ready for the Dodger channel, the very next year.

          Like I said, if it was only TWC being outrageous I would understand, but TWC has tried to come down with there price, and this continued.

          I couldn’t get TWC where I lived so I didn’t have the Dodger channel the first year, that TWC carried the Dodger channel.

          In Southern California, most people can get TWC or Charter, so once Charter took over, I got Charter.

          I rather have Direct TV, but I love the Dodgers, so I have Charter.

          I did sign up for the MLB Channel, and watched the Dodgers that way, before that happened, but I had to get one of those blocker places, to see the games live, because the MLB network, tape delays if you live locally to a team.

          I got an Apple TV so I actually know how to use that.

          But I don’t think that case will be able to prosecute, but just the threat, might do the job.

  6. Well one thing they will have to do this offseason is address the log jam in the OF. One spot solved with Reddick not a candidate to be resigned. But still a bunch of guys out there. Ethier is expected to be 100% by spring. They have as we all know too many LH hitters out there. And Puig is probably the most moveable piece along with Pederson, who I doubt is on the block. They might convince Andre to accept a trade somewhere. Lots of intrigue.

    1. Michael

      That has been the Dodgers issue almost every year, but I don’t think much will be done, unless they end up trading Puig.

      I think second base, is the one position that we have open, so I think it will be interesting to see what they do at second.

      And it will be interesting to see what kind of bat, that they will get, to help balance the line up, and to take care of the weakness against leftie pitching.

      The other thing will be getting a number two pitcher.

        1. Hawkeye

          It sounds a lot like Joc.

          And that is what Bellinger looked like in that Allstar game.

          I read that Bellinger changed his swing in 2015, and that is when his strike outs went up.

          Nomar or one of the very good former hitters, said that if a player is striking out that much in the AAA, or minor league level, these type of players, usually don’t do well at the major league level.

          He said the only player he ever saw that stuck out that much, at the minor league level, that hit well at the major league level, was only one player, and that was Bonds.

    1. Hawkeye

      Kinsler hit 28 HRs, and hit just under 290, and hit in over 80 runs

      I had no idea that he had that type of power, and hit that well.

      He hits lefties well.

      He only hit 7 HRs off of lefties, but his slugging percentage is over 5 against lefties.

      He would only be a one year rental, so we wouldn’t have to give up as much, but the Tigers are trying to bring there payroll down.

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