This Day In Dodgers History: SportsNet LA Launched

This day in Los Angeles Dodgers history saw the official launch of what was then-Time Warner Cable SportsNet LA on February 24, 2014. The network came to fruition after the Dodgers signed a 25-year, $8.35 billion broadcast agreement with Time Warner Cable on January 28, 2013.

The 24-hour channel was created to provide exclusive and unrivaled coverage of the Dodgers with games, news programs and documentary-style shows. In addition to Time Warner Cable subscribers, it was available for Bright House Networks Champion Broadband customers from Day 1.

Charter added SportsNet LA to its channel offerings in June 2015, and in May 2016 they purchased Time Warner. The Dodgers’ exclusive network then became formally known as Spectrum SportsNet LA.

While there was plenty of excitement surrounding the all-Dodgers channel, it effectively was blacked out for DirecTV customers. The pay-TV provider remained firmly against offering SportsNet LA as part of a package — a common practice — and instead preferred an a la carte option.

SportsNet LA blackout

There was hope a merger between AT&T-DirecTV would signal an end to the impasse, but it carried on. In April 2016, Congresswoman Janice Hahn of the 44th district in California wrote letters to TWC and AT&T requesting a joint meeting in effort to find a resolution. DirecTV rejected Hahn’s request.

In November of that same year, the United States justice department filed a lawsuit against AT&T-DirecTV, alleging they were the ringleaders in colluding against Spectrum and distribution of SportsNet LA. AT&T reached a settlement with the justice department in March 2017, and it did not include a mandate to carry the network.

As thousands of fans were left without access to SportsNet LA, the network regularly began to simulcast several games on KTLA 5 each season.

On April 1, 2020, Spectrum Networks announced a carriage agreement with AT&T and its subsidiaries, including DirecTV, AT&T TV, U-verse TV and AT&T TV NOW customers in Southern California, Las Vegas and Hawaii.

SportsNet LA crew

The SportsNet LA broadcast team at the time of launch featured Vin Scully, Charley Steiner, John Hartung, Alanna Rizzo, Orel Hershiser, Nomar Garciaparra and Jerry Hairston Jr. Jorge Jarrín and Manny Mota handled the initial Spanish-language broadcasts, but in 2015 that primarily changed to Pepe Yñiguez and Fernando Valenzuela.

The SportsNet LA crew remained intact until Scully retired after the 2016 season. Then in January 2021, Rizzo announced she was stepping away from SportsNet LA in order to move to the East Coast for family reasons. She since went on to return to MLB Network and join Chris Russo on “High Heat.”

In addition to broadcasting current and historical Dodgers games, SportsNet LA airs “Leadoff LA,” “Access SportsNet: Dodgers” and “Backstage: Dodgers” along with other programming. The network has won multiple Los Angeles Area Emmy Awards, including in 2021 for the category of Sports Series, Programming (post-produced).

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