Los Angeles Dodgers: TV Standoff Is Dangerously Disillusioning Fans

Robert PaceContributor IIIApril 29, 2014

Apr 4, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; General view of Los Angeles Dodgers fans arriving before the 2014 season home opening game against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

“It’s time for Dodger baseball!”

A month into what could very well be Vin Scully’s final season uttering those famed words, most of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ contingent isn’t able to hear them spoken.

Scully’s voice is booming rich with bits and pieces of Dodgers history gushing from his lips like a geyser as it has been for decades now, but the majority of Dodgers fans are being deprived of that which they’ve come to crave for six months of the year.

After a month of deadlock in negotiations between the Dodgers’ new TV channel, SportsNet LA, and cable and satellite providers, those fans are parched and enraged.

A month into what has been the most anticipated Dodgers season in a decade, fans are witness to a finger-pointing match that they have no interest in but are forced to watch as they impatiently wait to see the Boys in Blue take the field.

The blame is of no importance to fans.

They couldn't care less if the hefty $8.35 billion deal Time Warner Cable struck with the Dodgers is the root of the impasse, or that there’s a website set up to demand providers to carry SportsNet LA.

What matters to the nearly 70 percent of fans who haven’t been able to watch the Blue Crew on TV is that the matter become resolved immediately.

Apr 4, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully prepares to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the 2014 season home opening game against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TOD
USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles sports fans are growing weary of getting entangled in the stalemate of TV negotiations. It’s become a maddeningly familiar debacle that starves fans of watching the games they love.

In 2012, fans were held hostage in a standoff between the Pac-12 Networks, Time Warner Cable SportsNet, and its Spanish-language equivalent Time Warner Cable Deportes and providers that prevented them from being able to watch both the Lakers and Pac-12 games, including those of local colleges UCLA and USC.

While nearly all providers eventually struck deals with those channels after a few months, DirecTV and the Pac-12 Networks, as well as Dish Network and the TWC tandem, have still to make a deal, which continues to infuriate fans.

The consumer, of course, has the option to switch to a variety of other providers that carry Pac-12 Networks and TWC SportsNet and Deportes, but in the case of SportsNet LA, only Time Warner Cable is carrying the new channel.

But, then again, why should consumers be subjected to the hassle of switching providers over one channel? It doesn’t take a genius to decipher that the onus is on the provider and channel to find resolution, not the paying consumer.

Moreover, was not the endgame of this new Dodgers channel taken into account when the megadeal was proposed and then inked by both Time Warner Cable and the Dodgers? Are there not shrewd businessmen capable of meeting a deadline, which would’ve been Opening Day?

Again, a digression. Trying to sort out the culpability in the matter is as useful as swinging when the ball’s already in the catcher’s mitt. A blatant waste of energy.

A.J. Ellis said he watched Tuesday's game via a pirated feed. #ineedmydodgers

— Eric Stephen (@truebluela) April 10, 2014

Fortunately for fans, though, there is an assortment of alternative ways to partly satiate their hankering for the Dodgers as the TV deal remains unresolved.

For one, fans can tune into games on the radio and follow along with play-by-play streams online. There is also a bevy of free, high-quality content from SportsNet LA on the TV channel’s website.

Yet, those methods of ingesting the Dodgers are droplets to a panting beast.

This is starting to get old REALLY FAST @DIRECTV!!!!! #iNeedMyDodgers

— #BeatSJ!! GKG (@DaveyGoesCray) April 28, 2014

@MagicJohnson Hmm...didn't see it on my TV. Actually, I haven't seen any Dodger game on TV yet. Hard to be a fan of the Dodgers these days.

— WayneB (@whb1957) April 26, 2014

The Dodgers faithful don’t want to merely watch highlights or features on the team; they want to be immersed in the game, doused knee-deep with Scully’s fascinating stories or poetic tangents about the picturesque Los Angeles skyline that lingers above Chavez Ravine as the first pitch is being thrown.

Without it, fans are disenchanted and irritated, which they are unendingly expressing on social media every day; however, with every game that isn’t televised, a growing number of them are becoming increasingly withdrawn from the team.

Hopelessness can increase desire, but it can also yield discouragement, which has the potential to negatively affect fans’ relationship with the Dodgers in addition to their discontent with both sides of the TV standoff.

Dodgers fans continue to lose in TV money war — and this could last awhile, reports @thebenbergman for @KPCC http://t.co/ibyJLagDb5

— Melanie Sill (@melaniesill) April 28, 2014

@Dodgers @JoeyJ33 been a dodger fan 36 years. so angry that I cant watch games on TV. hope the big contract was worth alienating your core.

— Ryan Blackmun (@rblacky31) April 26, 2014

It’s been clear from the onset of this fiasco that it’s a winless scenario for both of the most important parties involved: The Dodgers organization and its fans. Without the most important medium to connect the two, the distance between them can only expand.

And for those fans eagerly waiting to be told it’s time, Dodger baseball is beginning to seem like a mirage.