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.