LOS ANGELES -- Five days before the Dodgers' first domestic regular season game on their new network, SportsNet LA, team president and CEO Stan Kasten on Thursday said he was disappointed that carriage deals haven't been worked out with Time Warner Cable by several providers.
SportsNet LA is currently on Time Warner Cable as well as Bakersfield-based Bright House Networks and Champion Broadband, available in Monrovia and Arcadia.
"I do occasionally see rhetoric that is disappointing because it's disingenuous. For instance, when some cable providers say, 'Gee, we think the Dodgers should be a la carte.' All these providers know that there is not another team in all of baseball whose games are a la carte anywhere. Including, interestingly enough, on the cable systems owned by these same providers with their own RSNs," Kasten said. "They don't do it for themselves and by the way those same providers have their deals at higher prices for bigger packages than have been offered to them right now."
It was the first of a few veiled shots at DirecTV, the largest provider not yet to carry SportsNet LA. DirecTV owns Root Sports, with regional sports network in Pittsburgh, Seattle and Denver and corresponding carriage deals with other cable and satellite providers in various other markets.
Time Warner Cable, which committed $8.35 billion over 25 years for the Dodgers' local television broadcasts, is distributing the network and said to be asking as much as $5 per subscriber for other providers - DirecTV, AT&T U-Verse, Verizon Fios, and others - to carry the network, per multiple reports.
"Let me assure you that we're talking about market rates and very consistently what's out there now, and that's what's disappointing," Kasten said. "This is not about price, the price is consistent with the market place. In fact, to be blunt, some of these people, and they know who they are, are already on their own systems paying more than the price that's out there to teams in smaller markets. That's the truth. This is not about price, it's about the negotiating game."
Kasten said the Dodgers sold 35,000 season tickets and that the team sold three million tickets before Opening Day for the first time in franchise history, evidence of a strong team following.
"The other thing that's particularly irritating in terms of disingenuous rhetoric is when some of them say, 'We're not really seeing the demand for the Dodgers.' That doesn't pass the laugh test because you know about the attendance not just here, but we also led baseball in road attendance. We have the highest number of season tickets we've ever had; it is the highest in all of Major League Baseball," Kasten said. "Last year our TV ratings didn't go up by 2% or 4%, they went up by 40% and look to be higher this year. So come up with some other excuse because the reality is, in the history of this franchise, it is likely that right now is the time with the greatest interest that our team has ever had."
Tonight's game against the Angels is available locally on Fox Sports West, the Angels' broadcast, as well as Saturday on KCOP. Sunday's domestic regular season opener will be televised exclusively by ESPN.