AT&T, Spectrum end carriage conflict for SportsNet LA

SportsNet LA, the regional sports network devoted to Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers, will finally be carried on DirecTV and other multichannel video distribution platforms controlled by AT&T ending more than six years of bitter conflict between DirecTV and Dodgers partner Spectrum. 

The new carriage agreement also involves AT&T TV, U-verse TV, and AT&T Now. But it was DirecTV that has garnered the most attention given its hold of a sizable portion of the Los Angeles pay television market over the years. 

Since SportsNet LA was first formed in 2012 and hit the air two years later following a record-level 25-year, $8.35bn rights deal between the Dodgers and Spectrum predecessor Time Warner Cable, DirecTV until now had steadfastly refused to carry the channel, citing unacceptable pricing terms, leaving the RSN unavailable to a significant swath of the Dodgers’ home territory. 

The stalemate for years left SportsNet LA reaching less than half of its available Southern California market.

The lengthy dispute ultimately involved the US Justice Department, drew the repeated attention of MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, and even saw AT&T take over DirecTV before finally getting solved.

“This agreement underscores our commitment to provide all Dodgers fans with the opportunity to enjoy our award-winning programming and live game coverage,” said Dan Finnerty, Spectrum Networks senior vice president. “Working together with AT&T, we were able to reach an agreement to offer the region’s most popular teams to local fans across AT&T’s video platforms.

The immediate benefit of the impasse’s end will have to wait, however. MLB, like all other major US pro and college sports properties, are currently on hiatus due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. MLB is following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommending not staging any large gatherings until at least Mid-May.

“As anxious as we all are for the ongoing pandemic to end and for the 2020 season to begin, we now have even more reason to be excited,” said Stan Kasten, Dodgers president and chief executive.