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A SIGN OF THE TIMES: THE DODGERS, YOUTUBE, VIDEO STREAMING … START SCREAMING

By Tom Hoffarth
The premise started rather simple in what ended up as this week’s version of the L.A. Times sports media column:
A) YouTube does a swell job at streaming free MLB games.
Which reminds us …
B) The Angels stream their Fox Sports West games on the Fox Go App.
But …
C) The Dodgers do not stream SportsNet L.A. games on the Spectrum App. Even if you subscribe to a service that gets SNLA.
That’s kinda strange, isn’t it?
D) Would the Dodgers considering taking the channel they actually own and making it available for streaming, a service that more in the younger demographic are comfortable with, and even those older can learn how to use via this YouTube template?
The Dodgers declined to comment, and Charter/Spectrum, which is in charge of the distribution, dismissed it.

The responses hold form to how both over the years remain tone deaf to this situation. And there we see the latest status of shallow disconnect, on many levels.
(That line above was in the original L.A. Times column. It didn’t make it in.)

There is plenty more nuance and read-between-the-lines elements to this story, as evidenced on social media when it was promoted, commented upon, debated, etc.
It’s an emotional subject in Los Angeles that has one winner — the Dodgers, who accepted a truckload of cash for owning this channel and getting a lucrative distribution deal that was unreasonably penciled out by Time Warner at the time — and a lot more losers.
As an example, DirecTV somehow is introduced into this headline. It’s never mentioned in the story. DirecTV is the AT&T-owned distributor that refused from the start six years ago to take on the Dodgers’ SNLA channel — as well as the Pac-12 Networks — with a domino effect resulting in other cable systems not named Charter to follow suit and refrain. Lawsuits have occurred and been squashed. Politicians have yelled and gone unheard. The Dodgers have finally been told to stop talking in the media because it could affect Charter’s deft ability to distribute the channel even less than it already has done.
At least we didn’t see the stat — 70 percent of people in L.A. can’t get SNLA. A portion of Southern California may choose not to receive it, sticking with a dish or Internet provider for their TV service. But they have access to it if they want it for a majority of the region. It’s as simple as looking at the Charter distribution map when it bought out Time Warner and finally dropped the toxic name.

MOneyball

Here are a few things to follow if you’re really into what’s behind this story — other than the fact we simply wanted to point out the benefits of YouTube streaming.
+ On Twitter, follow @MoneyballToo and Tom Wilson get access to his documentary. Here’s also an interview he did with KROQ in ’16.
+ Also on Twitter, follow @DodgerGameNotes. The curator is a former DTV employ who knows from the inside what happened there with the distribution talks.

+ Here are links to several stories we did on this way back when we called the “Dodger Hostage Crisis” when writing for the L.A. Daily News (and if you don’t have a subscription to this, bless you):

== The latest on the Dodgers and their TV fiasco” from April, 2018, which includes this (sound familiar?)

Hulu CEO Randy Freer, on the job since October after spending more than 20 years in charge of the Fox Sports Media Group – which included overseeing the two regional channels in L.A. – was talking to a room full of hundreds of smart business executives at the CAA World Congress of Sports last week at LA Live. Freer went from broad strokes of how sports programming rights remains strong to a very specific example about how “dynamic pricing” for customers can change the paradigm.

These days, when you yank out your cable cord or dismantle the roof-top dish and subscribe to a device on your Internet-ready TV – like Hulu or YouTube TV or Amazon Prime – you still need a new way to get to the local sports nets. A generation of today’s TV viewers have figured out end-around plays. But when that happens, the teams and channels lose the opportunity to cash in.

“How do you create an opportunity in baseball where, either through MLB.tv or with ESPN’s app, you can buy a Yankees-Red Sox game for $10 or $20 or whatever is the right price?” Freer asked. “To me, one of the bedrocks of why I think live sports is important to the business is because it has great value and you can start to offer it in a different way – reprice things, re-create value, give people an opportunity to come in and out across the board.

“Honestly I’m a little surprised in L.A., where you have some distribution channel issues, the Dodgers haven’t been more aggressive and more innovative in figuring out a way to get outside of the geography and the parameters that they’re stuck in and get out.

“Say, the Dodgers and Cubs have a series … (they can) figure out how to get it to you at the right price. Regular-season pricing could be valuable to the Dodger fan who watches 20 games.”

Internally, the Dodgers may be all for parceling out games to customers, but when asked in this instance for a comment, the team deferred to its business partners at Spectrum, which issued a blanket statement: “We are proud to deliver Dodgers fans quality broadcasts and exclusive, in-depth programming on SportsNet LA. Last season, Dodgers telecasts recorded the highest-ever season ratings on SportsNet LA and we look forward to another exciting season of 24/7 coverage celebrating the Los Angeles Dodgers 60th anniversary season.”

First, Freer is very freed-up from his previous position to make such a suggestion that would ultimately benefit Hulu and others. Were he still at Fox, it’s doubtful he’d support such a business model that would amount to just a very small percentage of income and, more importantly, would damage the exclusive nature Spectrum customers currently have in accessing the Dodgers games.

Honestly, we’re a little surprised he even brought that up as a viable option.

== Fifth season of Dodgers’ SportsNet LA merges old issues with new concerns”  from Feb., 2018
==
Media intervention needed in Dodgers, SportsNet LA mess” from 2016
==
Dodgers’ SportsNet L.A. launch has a ways to go before everyone’s satisfied” from 2014

One more thing about the YouTube coverage of the Dodgers, Angels and 13 games this season, from a consumer who checked in on that Dodgers-Phillies game last Wednesday afternoon:
“I was at work and couldn’t watch the Dodger game on YouTube live, but I knew it would be there to watch when I got home. Of course I didn’t want to know the outcome and spoil the suspense. So I bring up the game, start watching and then had to hit pause to take a phone call. But on pause, big letters came on the right side of the screen: Up next: Martin walks it off with a single in the 9th RECAP. Ruined it for me.”
Not every platform is perfect.

08.12.19: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

So we’re a year out from the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, and if Simone Biles decided to switch from gymnastics to beach volleyball …
Who eventually represents the U.S. on the beach sand venue will likely be on display at this AVP annual trip to Manhattan Beach. Those who are in town for the 59th Manhattan Beach Open, complete with the ceremony honoring the winners with plaques on the iconic pier, know the value of the sixth of eight stops on the 2019 schedule, less than a month removed from Hermosa Beach, with events in Chicago (Aug. 30-Sept. 1) and Hawaii (Sept. 20-22) to cap it off. NBCSN airs this delayed at 8 p.m. Sunday.
The rest of the week includes the Dodgers in Miami and Atlanta, UFC 241 in Anaheim and Week 2 of the NFL exhibition season sending the Rams to Hawaii. It’s here.

A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES: WHAT DAN FOUTS LEARNED FROM HIS FATHER, BOB, TO SHARPEN HIS BROADCAST SKILLS FOR CHARGERS, CBS

By Tom Hoffarth
Dan Fouts spend last weekend in Canton, Ohio, for the Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremonies, which included the usual group photo op (above).
His week ahead includes flying from his home in central Oregon to visit the Chargers’ Costa Mesa practice facility Tuesday, then joining the TV broadcast booth in Arizona on Thursday night as the team opens its exhibition season.
Friday morning, the former San Diego Chargers great and a color commentator on CBS NFL broadcasts will head to San Francisco. It’s time to say goodbye to his father during a funeral at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church.
Bob Fouts died July July 9 at 97. The elder Fouts had logged two decades calling San Francisco 49ers TV and radio games when the team joined the NFL in 1950 and was a legendary Bay Area broadcaster whose work included college basketball, the NBA and local TV sportscasts.
What Dan Fouts learned from Bob Fouts does deep in the DNA for broadcasting, play-by-play or analysis. Here’s our weekly L.A. Times sports media piece, taking to Dan Fouts after his return from the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Canton, Ohio.

 

A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES: DAN LE BATARD, ESPN AND WHEN POLITICS/TRUMP DON’T MIX GOING FORWARD

By Tom Hoffarth
In the boiling-hot-to-quickly-evaporating news cycle of stories about sports media members — public figures who border on celebrity — last week was full of suspense over whether Dan Le Batard would be reprimanded, suspended or fired by ESPN because of comments he made on his radio show in response to politically toxic tweets from President Trump.
ESPN chief Jimmy Pitaro had Le Batard meet him Thursday. The air was cleared. Those familiar with the temperament and leadership style of Pitaro, who started steering the all-sports network’s nuclear submarine in the spring of 2018, figured Le Batard would get the benefit of any doubts even though Pitaro has made it clear he’s not keen on his employees talking about anything tinged with politics.
So what does Le Batard and ESPN do going forward? We try out some idea in our latest Los Angeles Times media piece.
Meanwhile, m
ore to read on the subject: Read more

A sign of the (L.A.) Times: Jim Healy, 25 years after his departure, and if he still influences today’s radio landscape

By Tom Hoffarth
Is is true: Jim Healy left us 25 years ago — on his current gravemarker at Forrest Lawn Cemetery near Lakeside Country Club, Jim asks the question he made famous. And then his wife,  Pat, who passed away three years later, provides the answer above.
hollywood-ca-december-06-jim-healy-star-on-the-hollywood-walk-of-fame-KHRHA9
For our July 22 piece for the L.A. Times, we mark the occasion with a couple of interviews from his son and KNBC-Chanel 4 longtime reporter, Patrick Healy, KLAC’s Petros Papadakis, and former Healy sound-clip providers Ted Sobel and Paul Olden (the later of whom got the answer from Lasorda about a simple question some 40 years ago, with this clip below).
 

From the Los Angeles Times files, an obituary Larry Stewart wrote for Healy’s death on July 22, 1994, followed by a report on a tribute ceremony weeks later, chronicle the historic importance of Healy’s work. In an appreciation piece by former Times columnist and sports editor Bill Dwyre on the 20th anniversary of Healy’s death in 2014, “Journalist Bill” noted that Healy’s freewheeling, one-man sports radio show “was like nothing before and certainly nothing since.”
That remains a fact.

Thanks to those L.A. Times readers who responded with letters to the editor this week as well. We also heard from Matt Vasgersian, the ESPN “Sunday Night Baseball” play-by-play man who grew up in L.A. before working for the Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres and MLB Network.
Vasgersian said: “I channel him every day during our off-season morning talk show ‘Hot Stove’ with soundboard drops — probably over 200 of them, using them dozens of times an hour. He was a bigger influence on me than any single broadcast personality I’ve ever listened to. I even went to his Hollywood Walk of Fame induction ceremony — of course hosted by Johnny Grant.”
Enjoy …

A sign of the (L.A.) Times: An appreciation of Jim Bouton, smokin’ ’em inside decade after decade

By Tom Hoffarth
The passing of Jim Bouton last week at age 80 was pause to reflect on his career not so much as a major-league pitcher, but for what he delivered to journalism in the form of “Ball Four: My Life and Hard Times Throwing the Knuckleball in the Big Leagues.”
IMG_6791We are thankful we have a place to express our own reflections and cherished personal encounters in this week’s Los Angeles Times media piece.
We’ve done pieces on Bouton in the past, and enjoyed every moment, from paragraph to end quote.
A 2003 piece on his book, “Foul Ball,” gave us a chance to even challenge our own bosses at the time. We are thankful he posted it on his own official website.
In 2010, we caught up with Bouton in Burbank, for another treat, also with old friend Greg Goossen, Bouton’s former Seattle Pilots teammate who became a memorable character in “Ball Four.”
In 2017, we wrote about how the notes and recordings Bouton did for “Ball Four” were up for public auction. The collection never met the required minimum, and never sold. Which is fine, since it found its way to the Library of Congress, although money from that sale could have helped with Bouton’s medical expenses.

We even kind of remember, for all the lines that “Ball Four” provided, a rather appropo line given to Bouton when he decided to give Hollywood a try and was given the role off Terry Lennox in the 1973 Robert Altman film “The Long Goodbye,” which starring Elliott Gould as Philip Marlowe in the definitive portrayal of shallow L.A. evil based on the Raymond Chandler novel.
At one point, Bouton’s character as asked by Marlowe if he could recall the three DiMaggio brothers.
“Vince, Dom and, uh … Joe?” Lennox says.
With Bouton knowing full well that he had just smoked Joe DiMaggio inside with that act of reverence to the Yankee Clipper.

Upon Bouton’s passing, author Jane Leavy tweeted out:

Mark Armour, author and new president of Society of American Baseball Researchers (SABR), who engineered a biographic piece on Bouton for the group, added this:

Armour’s SABR.org bio on Bouton is linked here.
A complete Retrosheet.org list of Bouton’s game by game career is at this link.
Reflections on Bouton’s life and times are also available by John Feinstein for the Washington Post, Tyler Kempner for the New York Times and Jay Jaffe for FanGraphs.com.
Sunday AM came a sweet remembrance collection as well from Wendy Parker at SportsBiblio.
If you feel like re-reading “Ball Four” for a fourth or fifth or 20th time this summer, it would be fitting. Do it while pounding a Budweiser, for shitfuck’s sake.

A sign of the (L.A.) Times: When a Women’s World Cup starts the wave for Copa America and Gold Cup pitch-perfect-palooza

By Tom Hoffarth
Kick this idea around: Find a 15-hour time frame on a scorching summer Sunday when we can connect the final plot lines of three major soccer tournaments, on three different continents, and create a pitch-perfect-palooza viewing party.
It also happens to fall on America’s Fourth of July extended weekend.
Where do the TV networks sign up?

wwc liberty

From Jim Thompson/@jimmysporttoons

Fox led the charge, partnering with the FIFA Women’s World Cup from France that launched in the morning for U.S. viewers. Then it circled back for an evening affair with the CONCACAF Gold Cup. If as much by wishful thinking as by design, it had both the U.S. women’s and men’s national teams on center stage in each of those merriments.
Wedged between, a Copa America title bout that boasts the best of South America, something ESPN+ could frame as pay wall-worthy if one wasn’t inclined to listen to Andres Cantor call it aloud for Telemundo’s Spanish-language viewers.
Not everyone, of course, shared the amicable spirit of this cable-ready mash-up.
But it worked. The U.S. women won. The U.S. men didn’t, but a 1-0 loss to Mexico wasn’t unwatchable.
We write more about that triple combo situation and the viewership that came with it in this week’s Los Angeles Times media piece linked here posted Sunday.
Bonus coverage: As far as how many watched, and how the Gold Cup added to the mix, here’s more from another Los Angeles Times media piece posted Monday.

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