In a year filled with impossible surprises, there’s finally a good one.
Yesterday, eagle-eyed DIRECTV viewers spotted something we all thought would never happen: Spectrum SportsNet LA, otherwise known as “The Dodgers Channel,” is actually on DIRECTV. You’ll find it on channel 690 in standard definition and high definition. AT&T hasn’t made a formal announcement yet, possibly because most folks would have thought it a cruel joke yesterday. But I swear to you, it’s real.
Yeah, sure… now
Of course, it would have been great if this had happened any other time in the last six years. The channel (known at the time as Time Warner Cable SportsNet LA) debuted in 2014 with only Time Warner Cable and BrightHouse as affiliates. That meant that about half the people in the Los Angeles market couldn’t get it.
Over the years, other pay-TV companies largely ignored SportsNet LA, due to its high price tag. Notoriously finicky Angelenos enjoyed the channel as best they could, but Southern California fans have never been as rabid as those on the East Coast and most people just went on about their lives.
In the meantime, the Dodgers have made it to the World Series twice, the amazing announcer Vin Scully retired, and this looked like it would have been another great year for the team. The future of the 2020 baseball season is still a little cloudy to day the least, but at least the channel’s there now
The MLB.TV loophole isn’t needed anymore
One of the reasons that DIRECTV and others never really felt they needed SportsNet LA is the so-called “MLB.TV loophole.” While the fulltime channel was never available for DIRECTV customers, games that were broadcast on MLB.TV were available to MLB Extra Innings subscribers by streaming, Except, of course, those that were blacked out.
And let’s talk about those blackout rules for a second shall we?
Major League Baseball still has some of the most extreme blackout rules of any sport. Since we’re talking about the Dodgers, keep in mind that they consider their “fan base” to be about 3/4 of the way up the coast to the Bay Area, and all the way west to Las Vegas. This is an area of over 10 million people, most of whom couldn’t legitimately get these games if they were broadcast over the air. Yet, the league rules allow the game to be blacked out if there is so much as one unsold seat.
My friends, the world will return to normal at some point. I don’t know when, and I don’t know how long it’s going to take. But it is. There will be a time when people can go to ballparks and watch games. But all this at-home time might actually convince sports organizations to end this blackout nonsense. The teams are getting paid for everyone who watches from home. Not as much as they would if everyone bought a ticket, but everyone isn’t going to buy a ticket. It’s going to be a while before those parks are full again. In the meantime it’s time for the league to realize those rules are ancient and need to go away.