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DIRECTV May Throw Curve at New Dodgers Channel
Washington, D.C. (February 18, 2014) - DIRECTV, which once aggressively added regional sports networks to its basic programming packages, may refuse to add the new Time Warner Cable-operated Los Angeles Dodgers channel unless it can be offered as a separate, a la carte channel.
On February 25, Time Warner Cable will launch SportsNet LA, which will carry 22 Dodger spring training games this season and more than 140 regular season contests. The cable operator, which was recently purchased by Comcast (pending approval by federal regulators), paid a whopping $8.35 billion over 25 years for the rights to Dodgers' games.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Dan York, DIRECTV's chief content officer, says the high price that Time Warner Cable paid for the rights to the Dodgers games demands that the cable operator charge a high fee to carry it. York adds that his company may not be willing to pay it.
"Time Warner Cable has unilaterally decided to pay an unprecedented high price and now wants all of their customers as well as those of their competitors, none of which who had any say in the matter, to pick up that tab," York says, according to the Times.
FierceCable.com writes that York added that "it would be reasonable to ask that only families who truly want to pay for the Dodgers actually pay for it."
In recent months, DIRECTV has taken a similar stance with the Pac 12 Network and Comcast Sports Houston, saying it should be allowed to offer the channels via the a la carte method, which means a subscriber would pay a monthly fee for them only if he wanted to. (DIRECTV has yet to add the two channels.)
That would enable DIRECTV to pay less to carry the channels because fewer subscribers would actually get it. In a basic tier, the channel is added whether the subscriber wants it or not, which means more customers would get it and DIRECTV would have to pay more to carry it. Fees are based on how many subscribers can watch the channel.
DIRECTV, which has billed itself as the industry's sports leader, has adopted the a la carte position in recent negotiations because it says the cost of sports programming is rising dramatically.
The satcaster may not be the only TV provider in the Los Angeles market that doesn't carry Sports Net LA. The Times writes that Cox also expressed concern about the channel's cost, which some have speculated could be as high as $5 a month per subscriber.
As of now, only Time Warner Cable is set to carry the channel in the Sports Net LA market.
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