SBD/April 4, 2014/Media

Dodgers Viewership Down Significantly From '13 As RSN Impasse Continues

About 70% of the L.A. market is currently without access to Dodgers games
An average of 37,000 people "have watched the Dodgers this week" on Time Warner Cable SportsNet LA, and that "pales in comparison to the first two games last season on Fox-owned Prime Ticket, both of which averaged around 300,000 viewers," according to Joe Flint of the L.A. TIMES. Prime Ticket "is available everywhere while SportsNet LA is currently only" on TWC. In contrast, Angels ratings "are off to a strong start," as games Monday and Tuesday versus the Mariners each "had well over 100,000 viewers" (L.A. TIMES, 4/4). Meanwhile, TWC said that DirecTV "has ended serious negotiations" over carriage of the RSN. TWC Exec VP and Chief Video & Content Officer Melinda Witmer in a statement said, "DirecTV has advised us that they will not carry the Dodgers this year, and they have walked away from the negotiating table." However, a DirecTV spokesperson said "nothing could be further from the truth." The L.A. TIMES' Flint writes not having DirecTV "is a big blow to the Dodgers" and TWC. No other major area distributors have been signed by TWC, but Witmer said that negotiations with them "are ongoing." About 70% of the market is currently "without access to Dodgers games." Sources said that TWC for the first year of its contract with the Dodgers is seeking "north of $4 per subscriber, per month with increases throughout the deal." Witmer said that the terms "are fair and fall behind" what TWC pays for YES Network, among other RSNs. Witmer said that among the demands DirecTV made "was one that would allow the satellite broadcaster to stop carrying the channel if the Dodgers went into a prolonged slump." Witmer: "I refer to this as the 'fair weather fan plan'" (L.A. TIMES, 4/4).

CARRIAGE CONUNDRUM: In L.A., Tom Hoffarth writes when it comes to the lack of carriage for the Dodgers' new RSN, the "real heart of the heartache begins when 19 of the next 20 telecasts taking us to the end of the month are exclusive to SportsNet L.A., with only FS1 coming to the rescue for the home contest" against the D-Backs on Saturday, April 19. Dodgers Ps Clayton Kershaw and Brian Wilson "have a better chance of coming off the DL quicker than another Dodgers game going to a national audience" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 4/4).
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