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Have Dodgers unintentionally become center of a cable revolution?

April 11, 2014|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Yasiel Puig and his teammates will leave the friendly confines of Dodger Stadium for a trip to Arizona and the Bay Area to play division rivals.
Yasiel Puig and his teammates will leave the friendly confines of Dodger… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)

Does it seem real enough to you now?

The Dodgers begin their first genuine road trip of the season Friday night, opening a three-game series in Arizona -- everybody into the pool! -- and then head to San Francisco for three.

About 70% of Los Angeles will see nothing on television. Not the return to the scene of the crime in Phoenix. Not against their rivals by the Bay.

The pricey squabble between Time Warner Cable and the rest of the providers marches on, or doesn’t, with no end in sight. There are no more artificial deadlines on the horizon -- the start of the season in Australia, the start of the real season in San Diego -- to hold out hope that the two sides would feel some real pressure to reach an agreement.

Just dead air. Just a hearkening back to those transistor-radio days of yesteryear, only now you get Vin Scully for just three innings.

And now comes the most frightening thought: Could it actually be this way all season?

The longer this goes on, the less it looks like the latest battle between billion-dollar cable providers and the more it begins to appear like a historic standoff. Somehow the Dodgers are seemingly at the center of the future of the pay-TV business.

If the others are actually able to force Time Warner Cable into offering the Dodgers in a la carte fashion, that changes the entire cable game. It could be the start of a dramatic change in the way people pay for cable. It could ultimately affect not only other sports stations, but all cable channels.

Don’t want to watch a shopping network, a foreign-language station, a whacked out couple-with-272-kids station, the Lakers channel, whatever -- don’t pay for them! Pay for only what you want to watch. It  changes only everything.

Times business columnist David Lazarus sees the Dodgers’ cable battle shaping up as a tipping point in the future of how people pay television providers.

The Dodgers’ new owners, of course, had no interest in being part of a cable revolution, they were simply trying to get the highest amount possible for their new regional sports network, and a record $8.35 billion deal qualifies.

Only now here they are, apparently on the outside while Time Warner Cable and its rivals dig in, negotiations proving less than fruitful and Dodgers fans left out. Seem real enough?

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