Padres, FOX Sports SD, and Time Warner Cable: Who’s to Blame?


Support for the Padres is dwindling. Maybe they should do somthing about it. Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

For the second straight season, it appears as though Time Warner Cable customers in the San Diego area will be deprived of Padres baseball in 2013.

In an interview on the Scott and BR radio show on Wednesday, Padres President and CEO Tom Garfinkel gave some insight into the bleak situation, saying that he’s “not terribly optimistic that (Time Warner) will pick up the games before opening day.”

As described by Garfinkel in the interview, at the beginning of last season, Fox Sports San Diego made an offer to Time Warner to pick up Padres games, to which Time Warner Cable countered with a price that they were willing to pay. Fox Sports came back with a counter-offer, at which point the other four cable providers in the San Diego area, Cox, AT&T, Dish Network, and DirecTV, all accepted the offer to carry the games. Time Warner has remained consistent with their position and has not been willing to negotiate further. Thus, Time Warner Cable customers which, according to Garfinkel, encompasses approximately 20% of the market, will not be watching Padre games on TV this year, unless they switch cable providers.

So who is to blame for this entire fiasco that has gone on for far too long?  The Padres will tell you it’s Time Warner’s fault because they have taken a hard stance and that Fox Sports’ asking price to carry the games is more than reasonable, since the other four cable providers have all agreed to the price. Time Warner will tell you, well, nothing really, because all they have really said is they are not willing to pay what Fox Sports is asking to pick up the games.

Regardless, whether it’s fair or not, it’s the Padres who continue to look bad in my opinion, since I would bet the majority of people who have Time Warner Cable and are following this situation probably don’t know all the details and will assume the Padres are to blame. They do know, however, that Padre games continue to be absent from their TVs. It’s a shame because the fans with Time Warner Cable are the one’s who suffer, assuming they do not switch to a different cable provider.

Which brings me to my possible resolution. According to Garfinkel in the interview, “(Time Warner) suggested it’s not likely (that they will pick up the Padre game) unless there is a critical mass of their customers who leave to their competitors.”

So, Mr. Garfinkel, why not facilitate those efforts? If you and the rest of the Padres organization truly care about 100% of San Diego seeing Padres baseball in 2013, why not offer to pay the cancellation fee and the difference in the increase in price a customer might incur from switching cable providers, for anyone who wants to switch to a provider that carries Fox Sports San Diego? One of two things will happen: Either fans will take you up on the offer and switch to Cox, AT&T, Dish, or DirecTV, in which case more people will be able to catch Padres baseball, or, and the more likely scenario given what you said Time Warner suggested, so many Time Warner Cable customers will leave that they will have no choice but to negotiate with Fox Sports San Diego to work out a deal to carry the games.

In an off-season when the organization did basically nothing to improve the team on the field, coupled with what has happened over the past few years with the constant shift in ownership and trading away of key players, an action like this would go a long way in restoring fans’ faith in the Padres organization.