When Guggenheim Baseball Management took control of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012, the second most exciting outcome for the team’s fans was the prospect of a TV network that could fatten the bottom line for the club. (The clear leader for fan excitement was ridding L.A. of misunderstood great man Frank McCourt and his.) The TV network was actually the deciding factor in Bud Selig’s decision to
steal wrest control of the team from the McCourts in the first place. The substandard TV deal that McCourt had worked out for the second most valuable franchise in the sport was the last straw for the failed ownership club borrowership.
So here we are in 2014, on the cusp of the first season of the Dodgers Network, and the 2-year long honeymoon between Dodgers fans and Guggenheim looks headed for some jagged rocks. The Dodgers Network is currently only available to Time Warner subscribers, a fairly small percentage of Southern California residents/sports fans. Games will be unavailable for DirecTV, Comcast, Charter, xFinity, Verizon, Dish, and U-Verse users. The old standby, KCAL, is also out of the picture. If you want to hear Vin Scully’s dulcet tones on the play-by-play you might run into some problems in the home market.
Hopefully this is all a game of chicken between Time Warner and the other area pay-TV providers but recent history suggests that the brinkmanship will last at least a little bit into the season. It would be a shame if Vin Scully’s potential final season is only heard on Time Warner subscriber TVs.
In the short term the financial impact on the club will be minimal to non-existent. Time Warner guaranteed the club’s cut of cash when the network was conceived. If the lack of carriers persists into the season, however, fans sentiments might turn against the owners in an old familiar way. Realistically, this situation will work itself out in the next 2 months and LA fans will mostly be able to watch every Dodgers game, but if things drag on much longer there is a legitimate risk those fans will feel alienated from the club. FOX and Frank McCourt can attest that there is a short distance between fan alienation and total disaster.