DirecTV (NYSE: T) does not appear to be enticed to sign a carriage agreement with Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) after the MSO lowered the price of its SportsNet LA channel by 30 percent.
Reps for the satellite TV provider had no comment when asked by FierceCable to respond to the move, which seems to have moved the PR needle for TWC but little else.
Meanwhile, reps for Cox Communications, a nikche operator in the SoCal region, said "Our perspective has not changed. We hope that we can come to an agreement with TWC SportsNet LA that does not burden our customers with excessive price increases. We are seeking a fair price for this new channel. We know that the Dodgers are popular sports programming for select customers, but that programming comes at an extremely high price for all customers. We will continue to fight on behalf of all our customers, not just sports/Dodgers fans, and protect the value of the products and services we provide."
According to the Los Angeles Times, TWC's price would only be good for one year, leaving operators in the tenuous position of having to drop the channel if they couldn't reach terms with TWC.
Certainly, that's a legitimate fear.
TWC SportsNet LA launched two years ago as the exclusive regional sports network of Major League Baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers, after TWC agreed to pay the team $8.35 billion over 25 years for their exclusive local TV rights.
However, No. 2 operator DirecTV — and most other pay-TV companies in the region — have balked for the last two baseball seasons on picking up a channel that SNL Kagan says costs around $4.90 per subscriber. That has left 60 percent of the SoCal region's 1.8 million pay-TV homes without TV access to the Dodgers. TWC says it's lost more than $100 million so far due to the lack of carriage.
TWC's discount would reportedly lower the price to $3.50 per sub for the coming baseball season. DirecTV may not have swung. But to mix up sports metaphors, the PR ball now seems to be in DirecTV's court.
On Thursday, the L.A. Times ran a story headline, "So what price would DirecTV pay for the Dodgers channel?" pointing out that the discounted per-subscriber rate for SportsNet LA would place it well below the costs demanded by some other regional sports channels including YES Network, which carries New York Yankees games, and the New England Sports Network.
TWC cuts SportsNet LA price by 30%, hopes to end 2-year-old carriage stalemate
TWC SportsNet architect David Rone to step down
TWC cuts programs, staff on SoCal regional sports networks, including SportsNet LA
Updated: Thsi story was updated to include a statement from Cox Communications