UPDATE, 1:55 PM: Lakers fans in LA can officially rejoice (unless you have Dish Network, that is): DirecTV will launch Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes today for all Southern California customers, it said in a just-issued release (see it below the original story). Time Warner Cable SportsNet will be available for on channel 691 throughout Southern California (Los Angeles, San Diego, Bakersfield and parts of Fresno) as well as Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, Las Vegas and Hawaii. Time Warner Cable Deportes will be available on channel 458.
PREVIOUS: 11:52 AM: We’re hearing an official announcement is coming soon that will say the satellite provider has agreed to a deal to carry the LA Lakers’ new broadcast home on Time Warner Cable SportsNet and its Spanish-language sibling Time Warner Cable Deportes. The companies have been in negotiations, but DirecTV like others had been balking at a reported $3.95-per-sub-per-month asking price for the new regional sports networks. The Lakers’ 20-year deal with the TWC properties kicked off on Halloween, but DirecTV customers haven’t seen them play yet. If a deal was reached, it means Dish Network is the only holdout among Southern California providers. Stay tuned.
Related: DirecTV CEO Takes On Sports Programming Costs In Lakers Fight: “The Industry Is Broken” READ MORE »
DirecTV CEO Mike White is no stranger to taking a stand against rising programming costs, pulling 16 Viacom channels off his service during the summer for 10 days before reaching a carriage deal. Now his company and Dish Network are the lone pay TV providers serving Southern California who don’t have an agreement to carry the LA Lakers’ newly created TV homes: Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes. The satellite companies are balking at the $3.95-per-sub-per-month price that TWC reportedly wants. (Verizon, AT&T, Charter and, as of today, Cox Communications have made deals and are carrying the channels.) DirecTV, with about 1.2 million subs in SoCal, also is holding out on making a deal for a third rookie regional sports net, the Pac-12 Networks. It says that costs are out of control. (A fine Sports Business Journal report on the LA mess calculates providers must pony up about $10 per sub per month to carry all the RSNs in town). White was, well, direct during his company’s earnings call yesterday when asked about negotiations. Sounds like the Lakers, who play their fifth game of the season tonight in Utah, won’t be on DirecTV anytime soon:
In terms of Los Angeles, I think it’s another example of how broken this system is. People take the same content, package it up, bid it up for 3 times the national average on a per-game basis and then try and stick it back to the other distributors in the geography. And I think that’s very unfortunate. We have a system of very carefully tracking churn by day to look at kind of what we think our customers will be most interested in. We are continuing to have active discussions about the Lakers network. We hope to have a deal on that content. But all of these new channels that – everybody here wants a new channel and they want to stick it into the bundle, is not right. I mean we are taxing most of our customers who wouldn’t be willing to pay for that content. And I’ve said before, I think the regional sports network structure in the industry is broken. And it is. But I’m probably not going be able to change that overnight. But adding other stuff to the bundle that the average consumer can’t pay for without allowing it to be sold to those that want to pay for it is just not right. So we’ll continue to stand strong for our customers.
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Time Warner Cable is looking for other sports rights to add to its two new Southern California regional sports networks that are launching October 1 — and that now includes the lucrative local TV rights to the Los Angeles Dodgers. “We are hopeful that we will have an opportunity to speak with the new ownership,” TWC Sports president David Rone told Sports Business Daily. “Those are conversations we are interested in having and prepared to have.” It’s not a surprise that the new networks, Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Spanish-language Time Warner Cable Deportes, would seek to bid on those rights, but it marks one of the first open acknowledgments that they are ready to compete with current rightsholder Fox Sports for a long-term Dodgers deal that could be worth $3 billion or more. (The Dodgers were purchased in March for $2.15 billion, a record price for a U.S. sports franchise. Much of the team’s value is wrapped up in the next TV rights deal.) The RSNs showed that they will be a major player in the nation’s second-largest media market, plopping down serious cash in a 20-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers. But now the networks need other content, and Rone said in the interview that they are seeking out other deals, including college sports rights. Read More »
Time Warner Cable SportsNet and its Spanish-language sibling Time Warner Cable Deportes will launch October 1 as the exclusive home to the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers, Major League Soccer’s L.A. Galaxy and the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks. The regional sports networks’ names were unveiled today; at launch, they will show than 120 live sports events per year including local high school sports. “We are building Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes from the ground up to be the new homes for Southern California sports fans,” Time Warner Cable Sports President David Rone said. “Our networks are created around live coverage of some of the region’s signature franchises and represent a 24/7 commitment to give fans more access and insight than they have ever seen before.” It will be the first time that all Lakers games will be on one network after TWC inked the team to a 20-year deal in February and announced the formation of the networks. Read More »