Charter Communications will begin carrying the Los Angeles Dodgers-owned cable channel, SportsNet LA, in San Luis Obispo and throughout Southern California beginning Tuesday.
The move comes less than two weeks after Charter clinched a nearly $57-billion deal to acquire Time Warner Cable, which until now had been the only major pay-TV operator to carry the Dodgers channel in Southern California.
“The Dodgers are an iconic franchise and part of the fabric of the community,” Tom Rutledge, chief executive of Charter Communications, said in a statement Thursday. “We are very excited to be bringing the Dodgers back to Charter customers in the L.A. area.”
Charter’s move breaks a 14-month log jam that has prevented hundreds of thousands of homes in the Los Angeles region from receiving the channel. Charter had been one of the primary pay-TV company holdouts that had refused to carry the channel, which is owned by Guggenheim Baseball Management.
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Pay-TV providers have been balking at the cost of the channel, which is one of the most expensive sports channels in the nation. But Charter was motivated begin carrying the channel as it seeks to build goodwill for its proposed takeover of Time Warner Cable.
SportsNet LA will be included in Charter’s most widely available cable package, which is called Spectrum TV Select. Charter has nearly 300,000 subscriber homes in the Los Angeles region.
Charter subscribers in San Luis Obispo and Porterville also will have access to the channel. In San Luis Obispo, the channel will run as high-definition channel 773. Spanish-language broadcasts, and Korean- language secondary-audio-programming broadcasts, also will be available in these markets.
Terms of the carriage deal between Charter and Time Warner Cable were not released. However, Charter subscribers will not be charged extra for the channel, according to a person familiar with the deal terms.
Beginning Tuesday, nearly 2 million homes in Southern California will have access to the channel as part of their cable lineups.
Charter’s decision is not expected to immediately prompt the other holdout pay-TV companies, including DirecTV, Dish Network, Cox Communications and Verizon FiOS to begin carrying the channel.
DirecTV, the second largest pay-TV company in the region with more than 1.2 million subscribers, is in the process of being acquired by telecommunications giant AT&T. That deal is expected to win regulatory approval in the next few weeks. However, Charter’s shift could prompt the other providers to begin reassessing their resistance to carrying SportsNet LA.
Until Charter’s decision, Time Warner Cable had been in a tight spot — unable to persuade other pay-TV companies to carry the channel. Time Warner Cable has been losing more than $100 million a year on the deal that it structured with the Dodgers to distribute the channel.
Making the channel available to Charter customers should help Time Warner Cable trim some of its losses, but Time Warner Cable still is expected to lose hefty sums on the Dodgers deal.