It really does pain me to write this because I am having to unleash against my fellow Dodgers fans who are complaining about the Dodgers and Time Warner television rights snafu…..
Simmer Down Now !
As we sit here just hours before the first pitch from The Ravine for the 2014 season, Dodger fans are furious that the Dodgers and Time Warner can’t come together so fans can see their beloved team in Southern California. Talks broke down this week between Time Warner and DirecTV making it a distinct possibility that the Dodgers will not be broadcast in Los Angeles for customers of the satellite TV giant.
I am hearing fans toss so many words around regarding the negotiations, but one word I am not hearing much of is “business.” This is strictly business, nothing more, nothing less. Dodger fans need to wake up and grasp their new reality. Days of flicking on the tube and listening to the great Vin Scully for free are over. If you want to listen to Vin for free, jettison the Guggenheim group back to the midwest and bring back Frank McCourt. Do you like a competitive team that will spend 235 million dollars on their major league payroll and tens of millions of dollars to rebuild their minor league system ? If you do, then you need to embrace this new reality.
The Dodgers are a brand. They had lost that “brand” with failed ownership in Rupert Murdoch and in Frank McCourt. The Dodgers have now re-established their “brand” under Mark Walter and this new group. They have made it clear. They want to win, they will spare no expense, but it won’t be free.
How do you think the Dodgers are paying for their vast web around the globe to find big league talent to become a perennial winner. They are spending an un-godly amount of money to make the Dodgers consistently relevent. In their negotiations with Time Warner they discussed their long-term plan to become the pre-eminent organization in major league baseball. Time Warner loved those details and is paying the Dodgers upwards of 225 million dollars annually for the rights to broadcast the games. How does Time Warner pay for this unprecedented out-lay of dollars for broadcast rights? Customers, its Time Warner’s belief that the Dodger fans are so loyal that they and the affiliated broadcast providers will pay higher fees to see the Dodger games. Time Warner is gambling that if DirecTV or any other cable operator doesn’t want to pay the increased fees, then the customers and fans will migrate to cable companies that are willing to pay those fees and eventually pass them on to the viewer.
I have no problem with Time Warner holding out for the price they deem necessary to make a profit to carry Dodgers games. I hear a lot of complaining and whining from Dodger fans. Would you rather have a second tier team, finishing 78-84, while San Francisco Giants are hoisting World Series trophies? I don’t.
I remember a few years ago Giants fans were complaining about their former owner Peter McGowan. Giants fans were calling him cheap, out-of-touch and were ripping his moves. I had to remind these Johnny-come-lately’s that if McGowan wasn’t the Giants owner, the team would be called the St. Petersburg Giants and they wouldn’t have a beautiful privately financed stadium sitting on the shores of the San Francisco Bay.
How quickly we forget.
So, as the venomous diatribes continue and Dodgers fans vent about their inability to see the games, I ask them to sit back, take a deep breath, and think about the alternative. We lived with it for more nearly 20 years, and it’s not very pretty.