THROWBACK THURSDAY: SportsNet LA

Three years ago this week, SportsNet LA, known to most folks as “The Dodgers Channel,” went on the air. We covered it here. At the time, only Time Warner Cable customers could see it, along with a few very small cable companies in central California.

Since then, the Dodgers have reached the playoffs, their announcer (the great Vin Scully) has retired, and here we are looking at the 2017 baseball season, once again, without this channel on DIRECTV, DISH, or even Comcast. Only Spectrum (the service that was once Charter or Time Warner Cable) customers can see this channel. Period.

This means about 6 million people in the area covered by Dodgers baseball are out of luck. Again.

Don’t blame DIRECTV, DISH, or any other provider. It’s been said over and over again that SportsNet LA is more expensive than ESPN which makes it a spectactularly bad value when you consider the baseball season’s not even half the year. Westerners have a lot of other teams to root for, including home-team favorites the Angels, as well as teams in San Diego and San Francisco, and many folks who now live in Southern California hail from other places and have more interest in the home team where they grew up.

None of that matters. This nonsense has to stop. The Los Angeles city government allowed this to happen despite millions of dollars in tax breaks, law enforcement, traffic and public transit assistance, yet its residents can’t watch the games. When you combine SportsNet’s unfettered greed with the ridiculous MLB blackout rules that keep most home games from being shown, pretty much anywhere, and this ends up being really unfair. City governments have a lot to do that’s super important, but let’s be honest this is a big part of people’s lives.

For those people who are affected by this whole mess, your option is to get the MLB Extra Innings package from DIRECTV. With it, you can see Dodgers’ away games on SportsNet LA by using the free MLB.TV subscription. You still can’t see home games and you don’t get any of the other content on that channel, but half a loaf is better than none, I suppose.