The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

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Will TV Viewers Pay to Watch the Dodgers? May 23, 1959

May 23, 1959, Baseball My family grew up around the television. I'm not particularly proud of it, but it's the truth. We constantly watched something--whether it was news, cartoons, movies or sports. Lots and lots of sports.

We had the first subscription on the block to "ON TV," an early pay service that carried Dodgers, Angels, Lakers and Kings home games. The idea was so new there were no commercials between innings, so we watched the Dodgers or Angels run onto the field and prepare for the next batter. Sounds simple now, but it would have been considered Space Age magic in the late 1950s.

The Dodgers' move to Los Angeles quickly made television sports a growing industry. Dodger games against the Giants were televised from San Francisco but companies were already discussing the possibilities of pay TV. The Times' Don Page wrote about one company's plans and they sounded a lot like some of Fox's experiments to enliven baseball coverage.

"But back to ITC's plans. It has experimented with a periscope camera concealed in the pitcher's mound. Other experiments include special cameras located in the ground directly under the batter. ... More use of zoomars and outfield cameras have been tried," Page wrote.

How much would this cost the viewer? Between 25 cents for a taped replay to a buck. I know at least one family that would have signed up.

--Keith Thursby

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Comments (1)

The Dodgers did end up experimenting with a pay TV service in 1964. It started in July and ran through the end of the season. Vin Scully refused to participate in it, so they had to get another announcer. I believe Fresco Thompson was the analyst.

It was called Subcription TV.

In the November 1964 election, California voters passed a measure banning pay TV in the state. Not that they had the legal right to do so.


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