Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) may be seeing some progress in its year-long struggle to distribute its regional sports network built around the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Reuters cites inside sources as saying TWC is back in "preliminary" talks with rival pay-TV operators in the Southern California region about picking up SportsNet LA.
With the Dodgers set to open the 2015 Major League Baseball season April 6 against the San Diego Padres, there is urgency. Baseball fans, sports writers, media critics and congressional representatives have all chimed in on the impasse, and will certainly do so in earnest if SportsNet enters its second straight Dodgers season blacked out in nearly two-thirds of the Southern California region's 6.2 million pay-TV homes.
According to the exclusive report from former Reuters' L.A. bureau chief, Ron Grover, now writing for The Street, TWC isn't considering lowering its fee demands for the channel, which break down roughly to $5 per subscriber.
Grover noted that rival MVPD's have suggested tiered distribution for the channel, whereby subscribers who aren't Dodgers fans could have some a la carte control over whether they pay for SportsNet LA. TWC has rejected this plan so far.
DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV) is the No. 2 pay-TV service in the region, behind TWC, but Verizon FiOS (NYSE: VZ), AT&T U-verse (NYSE: T), Cox Communications and Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR) all factor into these talks, as well.
In January 2013, TWC agreed to pay the Los Angeles Dodgers $8.35 billion over 25 years for the exclusive rights necessary to launch the channel.
- read this Reuters story
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Playing the SportsNet LA blame game: Include the fans and the team, too