Los Angeles Dodgers Fail By Making Fans See Red Instead of Blue
Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw closed out the greatest month of his already-illustrious career. Only 26 years old, the southpaw from Dallas has won two Cy Young Awards and was rewarded with a record $215 million dollar contract during spring training. The Dodgers wanted to make sure their fan base knew the new ownership would spare no expense to field a consistent winner.
Unfortunately, this willingness to spend extravagantly is tied to a greed that apparently knows no bounds. During the last off-season the Dodgers signed a long-term broadcasting deal with Time Warner Cable (hereinafter, TWC). As was done for the Lakers recently, TWC set up a new channel just for the team. The $8.5-billion contract set up a 24-7 Dodger channel. What more could a fan of the blue want?
How about the chance to actually watch the baseball games? TWC made one slight miscalculation: clearances were not obtained from the other cable and satellite providers. This was a critical consideration since anyone carrying the channel must charge $5 per subscriber. That’s right, if your cable or satellite picks up the channel you’ll have to pay five bucks a month for it whether you watch or not.
Following the lead of DirecTV, almost no other providers are carrying the channel. This means that only about 30% of the Dodger market has a chance to see the home games of the local baseball team. Think about that: no one saw Kershaw’s recent no-hitter. Vin Scully, the long-time, beloved team broadcaster, tells his wonderful anecdotes mostly to himself these days. Never has a sports team made so much effort for so few viewers.
Much ink and pixels have been spilled over this fiasco. Fingers have been pointed at the Dodgers’ ownership, TWC and L.A.’s local government (who, true to their deadbeat low profile, insists there’s nothing they can do). This kowtowing to greed has left us Dodgers fans feeling helpless. All we can do is complain – and maybe start watching the Angels, who are also having a good year.
This situation may be the wave of the future. Sports are run more and more for the TV audience. What happens when teams and broadcasters make watching sports on the boob tube too expensive? Should we get ready for all sports going to the pay-per-view model that boxing (now considered largely a joke and in terminal decline) pioneered? We’re entering uncharted -and dark- territory for the less-than-wealthy and non-obsessed fan. I think I speak for the 70% when I say I want my Dodgers, but only at the right price.
– Louis Burklow (aka, Hollywood Country Boy), Staff Writer, Phoenix Genesis
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