The Dodgers got a multi-billion TV deal and their own channel. The owner of that channel, Time-Warner, is tasked with making sure as many people see that channel as possible. To do that, Time-Warner has to convince other carriers — like DirecTV and other cable companies — to add the Dodgers channel. If they do that, it’ll cost those other company’s subscribers an awful lot of money, as sports rights fees are expensive.
According to the L.A. Times, Time-Warner is having some trouble convincing other companies to carry it:
Hundreds of thousands could miss out on watching their team on television this season because of a skirmish between its new TV home and local pay-TV distributors.
Set to debut Feb. 25, SportsNet LA, which is owned by the Dodgers and run by Time Warner Cable, has yet to sign agreements that would make it available in the majority of Los Angeles pay-TV homes.
The kicker: for the first time ever you can’t use rabbit ears to pick up Dodgers games over the air. You have to subscribe to a cable or satellite provider, and even if you do, you may not get your Dodgers if that carrier doesn’t have the channel. The Dodgers will still get their money — Time-Warner has guaranteed it — but how Time-Warner can make money on this without getting others to go along is an open question.
Eventually some will cave. They usually do. But as history shows, bubbles don’t perpetually inflate. They eventually pop. One wonders if the Dodgers/Time-Warner deal isn’t where the big TV money in baseball bubble pops.
Athletics president Dave Kaval is ready to take full advantage of the interleague series between the Giants and A’s this season. While the two teams customarily play a few preseason “Battle of the Bay” games each year, they’re also scheduled to meet each other six times during the regular season; once for a three-game set in San Francisco, then for a three-game set in Oakland. On Saturday, Kaval announced that any Giants fans looking to park at the Coliseum this year will be charged $50 instead of the standard, general admission $30 — an additional “rivalry fee” that can be easily waived by shouting, “Go A’s!” at the gate.
This isn’t the first time that a major-league team has tried to keep rival fans at bay, though Kaval doesn’t seem all that intent on actually driving fans away from the ballpark. Back in 2012, the Nationals staged a “Take Back the Park” campaign after people began complaining that Phillies fans were overtaking Nationals Park during rivalry games. They limited a single-series presale of Nats-Phillies tickets to buyers within Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia in hopes of filling the stands with a few more friendly faces. Washington COO Andy Feffer told the press that while he would treat all guests with “respect and courtesy,” he wanted Phillies fans to feel irked enough to pay attention to the Nationals. In the end, things went… well, a little south for all involved.
Whether the Giants are planning any retaliatory measures has yet to be seen, but it’s not as if this is going to be an enforceable rule. The real travesty here, if you’re an A’s fan or just pretending to be one, is that the parking fees have increased from $20 to $30 this season. Unless you’re a season ticket holder with a prepaid $10 parking permit, it’s far better to brave the crowds and take advantage of local public transportation. There are bound to be far fewer irate Giants fans on BART than at the gates — even if the gag only lasts a few days out of the year.