Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

After a six-year stalemate that saw almost half of Southern California blacked out from watching Dodgers games, Spectrum Networks finally reached a deal with AT&T to carry SportsNet LA, the team's regional sports network.

The backdrop: Millions of Dodgers fans have been unable to watch games on SportsNet LA since 2014, depriving them of six straight NL West titles, two World Series trips and one farewell tour for the great Vin Scully.

  • The trouble began in 2013, when the Dodgers launched SportsNet LA and sold exclusive broadcast and streaming rights to Time Warner Cable in a landmark 25-year, $8.35 billion deal.
  • TWC offered the channel to DirecTV and other competing providers, but they balked at the high price tag, leaving TWC — now Charter Spectrum — as the only distributor that carried SportsNet LA for the past six years.
  • Worth noting: In 2016, the Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit against DirecTV, accusing the company of colluding with AT&T, Cox and Charter to virtually ensure a de facto boycott of SportsNet LA.

The big picture: "And so began one of the longest-running, greed-driven, let's-take-fans-for-granted debacles in American sports history," writes Steve Lopez for the L.A. Times.

  • "One argument from the Dodgers has been that the broadcast-rights bonanza has paid to put a first-rate team on the field, but two straight World Series washouts may be penance for the deal with the devil."

What they're saying: I texted two L.A. natives for their reaction to this long-awaited deal, which still leaves customers of Dish Network and other providers out in the cold, but bodes well for them eventually getting the channel.

  • My uncle: "As someone who has lived within walking distance of Dodger Stadium for nearly six years — to literally not be able see almost all the games has been beyond bizarre. This has been such a self-inflicted wound by all parties, including MLB, who should never allow a TV contract like this again."
  • ESPN's Ramona Shelburne: "The Dodgers are a civic institution here. Not only was the team great these last few years, Vin Scully called his last baseball games. Such a shame corporate politics got in the way of that. This came from so far out of nowhere, I actually debated for a moment whether I should note it was not an April Fool's joke."

What to watch: L.A. isn't the only city where a significant number of fans have been — or might soon be — blacked out from watching games. A few examples:

  • Chicago: Marquee Sports Network, a joint venture between the Cubs and Sinclair Broadcast Group, still does not have a deal with Comcast, which boasts roughly half the TV households in the Chicago area.
  • Colorado: Nearly six months have passed without Nuggets or Avalanche programming on Comcast, Colorado's largest TV provider, and the dispute could extend through 2021.
  • New York: YouTube TV dropped YES Network last month.

Go deeper: The appeal of regional sports networks

Go deeper

Apple's antitrust fight turns Epic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Millions of angry gamers may soon join the chorus of voices calling for an antitrust crackdown on Apple, as the iPhone giant faces a new lawsuit and PR blitz from Epic Games, maker of mega-hit Fortnite.

Why it matters: Apple is one of several Big Tech firms accused of violating the spirit, if not the letter, of antitrust law. A high-profile lawsuit could become a roadmap for either building a case against tech titans under existing antitrust laws or writing new ones better suited to the digital economy.

Survey: Fears grow about Social Security’s future

Data: AARP survey of 1,441 U.S. adults conducted July 14–27, 2020 a ±3.4% margin of error at the 95% confidence level; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Younger Americans are increasingly concerned that Social Security won't be enough to wholly fall back on once they retire, according to a survey conducted by AARP — in honor of today's 85th anniversary of the program — given first to Axios.

Why it matters: Young people's concerns about financial insecurity once they're on a restricted income are rising — and that generation is worried the program, which currently pays out to 65 million beneficiaries, won't be enough to sustain them.

Axios-SurveyMonkey poll: Doubts over fair election results

SurveyMonkey poll of 2,847 U.S. adults conducted Aug. 11–12, 2020 with ±3% margin of error; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

One in four Americans is worried their ballot won't be accurately counted this year, and four in 10 worry mail-in voting could yield less reliable results, according to a new Axios-SurveyMonkey poll.

The big picture: Partisan identification is a massive driver of distrust in both categories — and the stakes are huge this year.