What does Time Warner Cable want from the Dodgers?
To those fans concerned about Time Warner Cable's interest in the Dodgers, this is the fundamental point: Time Warner Cable does not really want to own the Dodgers.
What TWC wants is to broadcast Dodgers games on its two new sports channels, set to launch later this year.
"We remain interested in the rights to the Dodgers games," TWC spokeswoman Maureen Huff said Thursday.
And, to modify the sports cliche, in whatever it takes to get those rights. TWC would rather do what it did with the Lakers -- you run the team, we run the TV and pay you a few billion dollars.
That leaves the Dodgers as the baseball team available to fill those summer nights during the Lakers off-season. And, although the Dodgers' contract with Fox expires after next season, TWC could be out of luck if the team's new owner renews with Fox before then, or decides to launch a cable channel centered around the Dodgers.
Huff declined Thursday to comment on scenarios in which TWC would buy the Dodgers outright or partner with a prospective owner. However, according to a person familiar with the Dodgers bid process, TWC has signaled to at least some prospective owners its interest in securing those television rights, in whatever way might make the most financial sense to the owner.
In essence, TWC is exploring whether it would be more prudent to wait for the TV rights to come on the market -- with potential owners well aware of what would be a bidding war between Fox and TWC -- or pursue ownership of some or all of the team.
In New York, TWC is involved in a dispute with MSG Networks, with some viewers no longer able to see the New York Knicks on TV. The spat has led to some speculation that MSG may try to jump in and make a play for the Dodgers TV rights, if for no other reason than to make life difficult for Time Warner Cable. MSG spokesman Barry Watkins said he would "politely decline to comment" when asked if the company were interested in either owning the Dodgers or their TV rights. Huff declined to comment.
-- Bill Shaikin and Joe Flint
Photo: Dodger Stadium. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times.