Dodgers TV stalemate has no end in sight; time to explore your alternatives

Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Vin Scully had just watched the Dodgers clinch the 2013 National League West Division title with a come-from-behind win at Arizona. It capped a season when the Dodgers, once 9 1/2 games out of first in late June, somehow got their act together.“It wasn’t easy,” he told the TV audience from the Prime Ticket booth at that time, “but in the history of the Brooklyn and L.A. Dodgers, nothing ever has come easy.”Just like trying to gain the privilege of hearing Scully call a full nine-inning Dodgers regular-season contest before he retires.For those dependent on television, Dodgers Version 2015 will have that same pit-in-the-stomach feel as 2014. Patience and virtue may have their place, but the angst involved in the Dodgers’ SportsNet L.A. channel distribution may call for some desperate measures. • MORE BASEBALL PREVIEW: 2015 MLB pre-season predictionsThere’s a more-than-distinct likelihood that a second entire Dodgers’ season will be invisible to nearly three quarters of the L.A. TV market, mostly because the team’s bad-cop partner, Time Warner Sports, has not been able to coerce a key agreement with satellite distributor DirecTV. That, when accomplished, would have a domino effect that would get cable companies such as Charter and Cox, and teleco companies like AT&T-Uverse and Verizon FIOS, to buy in.Delayed federal approval of a proposed Time Warner Cable merger with Comcast, along with one that DirecTV is trying to orchestrate with AT&T, may push any reasonable hope of this happening until midsummer. Even then, there are no guarantees that the mega-morphed companies will get past the $5 monthly subscriber price-point hurdle that has impinged negotiations.Major League Baseball contends its hands are tied, too.“This is a no-win issue from our perspective,” new MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a Sirius XM radio interview earlier this week, “because we really don’t have a seat at the table. Even the club doesn’t, if you really think about it. This is between Time Warner, who bought the rights, and the distributors. … “We’ve paid close attention to what’s going on out there. I’ve talked to everyone out in L.A. you can think of, including the mayor, … but we have two very big economic actors who have a very different view of what should be paid.” • MORE BASEBALL PREVIEW: Can Clayton Kershaw extend regular-season brilliance into postseason?Fans in search of their Dodgers on TV have complained to the team, their providers and their elected representatives, but the stalemate persists. With no end in sight, it’s time to explore the alternatives. You may have heard of these options before, but they bear repeating:• Cast a net over MLB.TV: The annual subscription to the online streaming site runs about $130 a year for the premium package. Then there’s the issue of getting around the blackout rule regarding home team coverage.If the MLB doesn’t lift that ban, consider what some have done to circumvent this: Pay an additional $5 a month to subscribe to a service called UnBlockUs .com or These companies hide your geographical location from streaming services. Those who’ve been using it report little to no trouble.Is it illegal? Well, it’s what lawyers will call “a breach of the terms of service.” Check your modem’s ethics manual.The beauty is the service is available not only through a home computer or laptop, but also PlayStation, Xbox, Apple TV, Roku and other devices that naturally connect to your high-def TV screen.Roger Arrieta, a graphic designer from Chino who through his popular blog last year created a “Dodgers Fans Held Hostage” logo, has been advocating based on his experiences.“I had heard of plug-ins you could use on Google Chrome or Firefox, and there were stories of other websites that promise to help but end up giving your computer viruses,” he said, “but I used this one, which just changes the setting in your router, and I’ve been watching games on my big screen through my PlayStation just as if I was getting SportsNet LA.“I can’t find anything that says it isn’t legal. I just do it during the baseball season. I mean, it’s either do something crazy or keep complaining and not watching. You’ve gotta do something, right? Or maybe if this goes on long enough, there’ll be some kind of class-action lawsuit for all of us who have had to pay all this extra money just to find the game?”MLB.TV gives subscribers access to games 90 minutes after they are finished. Again, this is testing your patience.• Find a local sports bar smart enough to hook up TWC:An eatery that relies on sports viewers can’t afford to have another season without offering the Dodgers.A recent changeover happened at the Dugout Sports Grill in Simi Valley, and co-owner Randy Tennant said he believes it will pay off immediately.When his place moved from Moorpark about a year ago to its current location, they put in DirecTV and just waited out the SportsNet L.A. launch. It didn’t happen, of course. They found fiber optic cables existed in the front of the building and they were available to drop AT&T Uverse and connect with TWC. They also dropped their Dish Network service, which they had for Pac-12 Network access.“There was a lot of missed opportunities,” Tennant said. “It was terrible for the fans. No one wanted to go through another year of having to say, ‘No, we don’t have the Dodgers.’“This is the cost of doing business. It’s not really cheaper financially, but we’d be stupid to go another year without. I expect a bump in business especially on Mondays and Tuesdays over what we’d normally have.”The Redondo Beach Café in Redondo Beach added TWC to its restaurant just before the SportsNet L.A. launch a year ago, but also kept DirecTV. Café co-owner Chris Tsangaris found business picked up immediately. He advertised on social media and put up outdoor banners to tell everyone. The banners are back up again.“We’ve had faithful Dodgers fans come in to watch since they were on Prime Ticket, so we knew we had to do whatever it took to keep them coming, even if it was kind of a mad scramble to get it up and running,” Tsangaris said. “When people come in, they just expect that you have every channel. Even if it’s a selfish standpoint, we’re excited to keep it going.”• Bite the bullet and switch over to TWC if you have the option:The promotional ads won’t get better than a starting point of $89.95 per month for the bundle of phone, Internet and TV (plus $8.99 for the sports tier and additional DVR feeds). The special expires April 30 and doesn’t require a contract, so if DirecTV does pick up SportsNet LA down the road, you can consider a switch again.Then again, some who don’t live in the TWC subscriber area have also been known to “borrow” their friends’ addresses or sign-on to access the feeds. Do it at your own risk.• Embrace radio:The Dodgers recently wormed an ownership deal with radio partner KLAC-AM (570) to rebrand the station as AM 570 LA Sports. If they know their audience, they’ll understand the importance of having the first three innings each night orchestrated by Scully, who begins his 66th season. This turn-back-the-clock option at least doesn’t cost anything, and radio games aren’t blacked out for antiquated reasons.

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