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Pay TV Coming to California

June 13, 1964 - Pay-at-home television, looked upon by all concerned as the next major revolution in marketing entertainment, will become a reality for the Los Angeles Dodgers in five weeks and for the San Francisco Giants a month later.

Subscription Television, also called STV, is the outfit that will carry the Dodger and Giant games. STV is a closed-circuit network; it has laid cables that connect to individual homes.

The first Dodger game to be carried is scheduled for July 17, a night game against the Chicago Cubs; the first Giant game, Aug. 14, a night game against the Milwaukee Braves.

Subscribers pay $10 for installation of the device, a cigar-box shaped case that makes possible a choice of three channels offering different programs. This “selector” also checks every five minutes to see if the set is in use and records this information for a central billing computer.

The promoter knows his actual viewership within 24 hours of the event, and the customers are billed once a month. A key-and-lock gadget enables the user to prevent accidental or unauthorized tuning.

The customer also pays a maintenance charge of $4.32 a month.

For each game, the charge will be $1.50. It is STV’s policy to make the price of each event comparable to the general admission price at the scene. There are, of course, no commercials.

This year, the Giants and Dodgers will present only home games; later, road games will be added.

A telephone company strike delayed installation of equipment in California, and actual talks with home subscribers were begun only six weeks ago. So far, in the Los Angeles area, about 14,000 homes have been reached and about 4,600 have signed up. In San Francisco, 3,600 have been canvassed and about 1,200 have bought.

By December, STV expects its cables to be within reach of 90,000 homes in California. By December 1965, they expect to have 533,000 homes; by the end of 1969, they expect the number to be 2 million.

Up to now, Californians have seen little baseball on television. Neither the Giants nor the Dodgers have ever televised home games; each year, the nine games with each other have been carried to the other city. The Angels have also televised road games from time to time, but never on a regular basis.

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