Lakers to Time Warner Cable; leaving Fox Sports West


Some big news in the regional sports network world: Time Warner Cable and the LA Lakers have signed a 20-year deal that will include distribution of the team’s live games over two new HD regional sports networks, including the nation’s first Spanish-language regional sports net. The Lakers are moving their local games from Fox Sports West and CBS Corp’s unaffiliated KCAL-TV LA, to the two new networks beginning with the 2012-2013 season.

This is a pretty big score for Time Warner Cable: Lakers home games have been airing on Fox Sports West and sister network Prime Ticket since 1985. KCAL has been airing games since the 70s. A Fox spokesman said that Fox made an offer to the Lakers that would have paid them one of the highest local TV rights fees in professional sports. But did not bid higher because it was not in the “best interest of our business or pay TV customers in Los Angeles, who will bear the cost of this deal for years to come.”

The new nets will be available to all satellite, cable and fiber optic distributors in SoCal, Nevada and Hawaii. These include Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications and Cox Communications, AT&T U-verse DirecTV and Dish Network.

The networks will include a number of elements, including:
• A single destination where fans can find all locally-televised home and away games.
• New and original Lakers’ content featuring behind-the-scenes, personality and classic programming.
• The Spanish-language channel is a stand alone RSN with its own dedicated production of game telecasts and other unique content tailored to Spanish speaking Lakers fans – not a SAP feed.
• All games will feature pre and post-game shows produced separately in both English and Spanish.
• A Lakers news and magazine show throughout the season.
• Joint community relations initiatives.
• New online and on demand multi-platform content featuring the Lakers.

RBR-TVBR observation: We wonder, with the huge distribution and footprint these two new HD nets will have, what other regional sports they may cull from Fox Sports West, Prime Ticket and other established sports nets in the area. Those up for grabs over the next few years include The Dodgers, Anaheim Ducks, The Angels, The Clippers, The Kings, Los Angeles Galaxy (soccer), Los Angeles Sparks (WNBA), UCLA Athletics and USC Athletics.