Charter Communications has signed a deal to license broadcast rights for the Los Angeles Dodgers to Tribune Media’s KTLA-TV for the last six games of the Major League Baseball regular season.
The deal coincides with the retirement of team broadcast legend Vin Scully, who will be ending a 67-year career as the voice of the Dodgers.
Terms of the deal weren’t announced. But it’s similar to a pact carved out two years ago by Time Warner Cable, which licensed the last six games of the regular season to broadcaster KDOC-TV.
Local Dodgers games are under the control of Time Warner Cable’s SportsNet LA, which famously doesn’t have a carriage deal with Southern California’s No. 2 pay-TV operator, DirecTV, depriving about half of the L.A. market of TV access to Dodgers games.
Charter, of course, inherited this expensive distribution problem when it closed its TWC purchased in May.
It’s a public relations headache for Charter in the best of times. With the mega-popular Scully dropping his mic, and the Dodgers holding a three-game division lead, the MSO really had not choice but to make the team’s final six games fully available via broadcast.
“At Charter, we’re focused on delivering the best sports entertainment possible through networks such as SportsNet LA,” said Michael Bair, executive VP of Charter’s spectrum networks., in a statement. “This award-winning network is only available today through Charter, and providing this preview during Vin Scully’s last few games is a great way to allow all Dodger fans to enjoy the legendary announcer as he closes out his iconic career. We’re also looking forward to showcasing the network as a way to remind all Dodger fans who don’t subscribe to Charter what they’re missing.”
The first of the final six games of the regular season will be played on Sept. 23.
In 2013, TWC agreed to pay Guggenheim Partners, the group that owns the Dodgers, $8.35 billion over 25 years for exclusive regional sports network rights to the team.
DirecTV has cited the limited popularity of Major League Baseball in the Southern California region as its rationale for not paying SportsNet LA’s sizable licensing fees.
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