I hope DirecTV and Charter and all the other non-Time Warner pay-TV carriers don’t buckle. They should hold out. They should not be bludgeoned into paying a huge extra amount just to broadcast the new Dodgers channel. I mean, the whole situation is kind of outrageous.
Wait. What am I saying? I’m a customer of one of the non-Time Warner companies, and I’m in danger of missing baseball for days or weeks or – dare I think it? – a whole season. I take it back. They should pay up. Immediately. Whatever it takes. I need my Dodgers.
Whew. This new Dodgers channel has me conflicted. I haven’t gone through so much back-and-forth since I was the sole line judge at a ping-pong tournament.
The crazy situation started a couple of years ago when the Guggenheim guys way overpaid to buy the Dodgers. We wondered what they were thinking, paying that kind of money. But they were smart. They knew $2 billion was not too big a price when all they had to do was create a Dodgers channel. They could lease the operating rights to that channel for an eye-popping sum because they cleverly gave the buyer the right to resell it and make even bigger money.
Sure enough, Time Warner Cable agreed to pay $8.4 billion for the right to operate the new Dodgers channel for 25 years. And now, Time Warner is trying to make even bigger money by charging regional cable and satellite carriers a lot more to carry the channel, complete with live broadcasts of the games along with all manner of other Dodgers programs.
If you divide $8.4 billion by 25 years, it means Time Warner is paying an average of $336 million a year. That’s more than six times the $50 million paid last year for the right to broadcast Dodgers games.
And who’s getting stuck paying that huge extra cost? The regional cable and satellite companies and, ultimately, their customers like me. Who do they think we are? Schmucks? We’re not the ones who agreed to these billion-dollar deals, so why should we pay?
Now that I think about it, the cable and satellite companies should definitely hold out and maybe permanently. I mean it. There’s an important principle here. They shouldn’t be forced to play the patsy and pick up someone else’s profligate tab. They should be all Nancy Reagan and just say no. We’re not buying your Dodgers opiate.
What’s more, I’m doing fine even though I haven’t seen a single spring training game this year. Oh, sure, I’m a teeny bit curious about Yasiel Puig because I read that he’s not having a good preseason. And I’ll admit to being very interested in Dee Gordon because he could add an exciting dose of blazing speed to a slow team. And, yeah, OK, so I’m fascinated with the comeback of Matt Kemp and I cannot for the life of me understand why these regional cable companies won’t come to their senses and make a deal. I mean, c’mon. Pay up. The season’s about to start. Are you guys nuts?
Yeah, sure, fine. Go ahead and charge me extra. I’m a schmuck, and a pretty willing one at that. I mean, it’s the Dodgers.