Thursday, March 06, 2014
Dr. Frank Jobe Passes
Monday, March 03, 2014
The Dodgers Board The Sinking RSN Revenues Boat As The Yankees Clamber Off
But it is now Go time for the Dodgers. If the Angels have bad player deals, it is because their shiny new Fox Sports contract enabled them to spend stupidly and big. The Dodgers decided they needed to one-up the Angels, and in an effort to do so, launched their own cable TV network. In this, they followed the Yankees, who created YES Network in 1999. But, as happened in San Diego (also this), and to a lesser degree, Houston, the Dodgers now find their own greed locking them away from the fans they claimed they wanted to reach.
The cable operator is optimistic that it will have wide distribution by the time the Dodgers' regular season starts March 22.I will not be surprised to learn there is a considerable amount of pushback among the cable operators, who weary of downside cable-cutting should prices escalate too high. And there are signs that we have reached the moment of collapse.
"We're coming off a tremendous season and interest in Dodger baseball is at an all-time high," Time Warner Cable Sports President David Rone said.
But that may be wishful thinking.
Many distributors are upset about being pressured to carry a new sports network in a region that already has several similar channels, including not only Prime Ticket but also Fox Sports West, Pac-12 Los Angeles and Time Warner Cable's SportsNet and Deportes.
"It is really hard to understand why everyone needs their own channel when they didn't need one before," said Andy Albert, senior vice president of content acquisition for Cox Communications.
Those channels, along with ESPN, cost customers as much as $20 a month whether they watch them or not. The Dodgers channel threatens to dramatically increase that figure.
Joe Kennedy, the bootlegger and patriarch of that political family, famously got out of the stock market when even cabbies and shoeshine boys started giving him stock tips. So we begin to suspect the jig is up on cable TV networks when the likes of icon YES Network sells itself to Fox. Why might they do such a thing?
One of the next things on the YES Network's to-do list is to negotiate a new carriage contract with Time Warner Cable, one of the largest cable operators in the New York metro region. Time Warner Cable has said the channel's distribution agreement is about to expire.In other words, the Yankees still get the benefits of operating a RSN without the headaches of having to extract revenue from cable operators. This, to me, is the rats leaving the sinking ship -- with the Dodgers viewing such a ship as their salvation. One expects one of those views will prevail, and it isn't the Dodgers'. Well, it wouldn't be the first time the Bombers proved better than the Bums.
Some have speculated that the negotiation process could be ticklish because Fox and Time Warner Cable have clashed in the past. Fox lost the rights to televise L.A. Lakers and Dodgers games after Time Warner Cable agreed to pay the teams substantially more than Fox had been paying.
Monday, December 09, 2013
An Offseason Encomium To Jon Weisman
In the newly created role, Weisman will be responsible for creating and producing original digital content for the club's website, as well as overseeing all of the Dodgers' publications, including Dodgers Magazine, and integrating them online.Congratulations, Jon, and hopefully you've found a home that sticks.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
The First Victims Of The Sports TV Bubble
So where in the world did this come from? ESPN is monstrously profitable and we hadn't heard a word about this until this morning. Well, ESPN has been gobbling up live rights to events left and right, and those rights are really expensive. We've heard they needed to reduce costs as a result. Also: ESPN's parent company Disney is apparently asking all divisions to cut costs.That's right. Presaging the squeeze between RSNs and the teams they depend on for content, ESPN has fired a bunch of people responsible for packaging and dispensing said content. ESPN employees have no pull in these negotiations, or at least less than the teams hitting ESPN for revenue streams. And according to the e-mails from now ex-employees following the piece, the bulk of the layoffs hit older, more expensive workers. (Hey, Disney, maybe you should ask Circuit City how that worked out.)
"But ESPN isn't an RSN!" you protest, correctly, which brings me to Maury Brown's latest reportage on the topic, a missive in which Jim Crane and the Astros have lost leverage with Comcast Sports Net Houston.
The issue is one of conflicting interests. The owners of CSN Houston, knowing that carriage deals of up to 20 years carries with it the need to get the most while they can, are sticking to their guns on getting the best rate possible. According to reports, that could be as high as $3.40 per subscriber—a lofty sum, especially in light of the dismal performance by the Astros....Because the Astros are negotiating from weakness, it seems likely they'll eventually have to settle for a lower price than they had hoped. There's only so far you can push these deals before either the RSNs or the cable companies they're selling to push back. As it is, the Astros have a similar problem to that which our neighbors to the south suffer from, namely, non-carriage on a large fraction of the local cable outlets. In fact, only 40% of the Houston area cable customers even have access to Comcast Sports Net Houston, a number that makes the Padres' 78% penetration look positively fantastic.
... it’s not like having Jim Crane say that CSN Houston is going to have to make “tough decisions” doesn’t add more leverage to those carriers that the RSN is trying to get top-dollar for. Ask yourself: if you know that an RSN is wounded, that ratings are down, and public perception of the club is low, why would you give in and offer a high rate that you are stuck with for 20 years?
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Mauling All Angels: Astros 5, Angels 0
Some years ago, when the A's were wretched and the Angels on what now appears to be the final season of their long post-2002 competence, Philip Michaels wrote that the A's are like Lourdes for other teams: they'll cure what ails ya. So the Angels now, afflicted by bad pitching, starting (as last night with Tommy Hanson) and relief, and offensive offense.
I'll be taking some days off from the park. Maybe they'll figure it out; maybe they won't. But this isn't their year, and the sooner they stop letting contracts like Hamilton's, the better.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
As If 2012 Never Ended: A's 9, Angels 5
C.J. Wilson's annoying habit of exploding one inning of every single start continued, and right away with the first, in which he surrendered three runs in a horrid mess of walks and singles, as a drunk man might keep retching long after disgorging the contents of his stomach. But then — and only after surrendering a solo homer to Coco Crisp to start the second — he settled down, and actually managed to outpitch the A's starter, Jarrod Parker, the latter only lasting 3.1 innings.
Usually when you can chase the other team's starter, it's a pretty good sign you've got a shot at a win. But by this point, the Halos were still down 4-2. They eventually turned that around in the sixth to make it 5-4 in an inning that saw the dubiously hired Josh Hamilton make his lone contribution, a sac fly to tie the game.
So the end of hope. The Angels held the A's at bay through two outs of the seventh, with Scott Downs — who has been dreadful this year, mostly — posting a very respectable inning, to give way to Kevin Jepson, who had been doing fairly well. As it happened, that was a horrible mistake, for as the Register's Jeff Fletcher tweeted, pinch hitter John Jaso hits righties better over his career by about .250 points of OBP (.789 vs. .539). While it wasn't exactly predictable that Jaso would homer, he did, and so, later, did Brandon Moss, who uncharacteristically hit 21 last year. A lesson, perhaps made starker by the enthusiastic boos that accompanied Jepson when he slunk back into the dugout after finally retiring DH Nate Freiman, four batters after his entrance into the game.
The game featured a mess in the offense, too, as the Angels stranded thirteen base runners, and headliner Josh Hamilton went 0-for-4 with a sac fly as duly noted before. Not a propitious start for the homestand, or the season. It is the sort of thing that makes you wonder whether the owner can be fired.
- The sudden Dodger Stadium-length concession lines at the park that I expected were a Freeway Series, early season anomaly continued unabated. People I know at certain concession stands who were competent and fast (the bartender Chet at the tequila stand in my section, 530 or thereabouts) are gone, replaced by someone I do not know who is vastly his inferior. And everywhere, long, long, slow lines.
- Verizon data is finally slow and awful during the game. My 4G LTE WiFi card is next to useless during the game, constantly downshifting to 3G, though AT&T is scarcely better.
- I haven't done a thorough look-see at the concessions, but the Chronic Taco in the Pavilion section is woefully understaffed and painfully (and to my eye, unnecessarily) slow. That's too bad, because it's probably the best food in the house at the moment. I recommend their same-branded stand in the third base entryway.
- In case you missed it: Jered Weaver will be out 4-6 weeks thanks to a comebacker in his last start that nailed his elbow.
I wonder, given how badly he pitched Sunday in Texas, whether it wasn't a stress fracture worsened by impact.Update 4/11: Duh, injury was to his non-pitching elbow.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Vernon Wells Traded To The Yankees
Update 3/25: Via BTF (and who doesn't love them for the wonderful commenters, a fine exception to the usual proscription on reading comments on the Internet), USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports that the Angels will eat $28-29M of his deal. Still a net plus.