SBD/September 13, 2012/Media

Time Warner Cable Still Looking To Land Carriage Deals For L.A.-Based RSNs

With the Oct. 1 launch of Time Warner Cable SportsNet and the Spanish-language Time Warner Cable Deportes just a couple weeks away, TWC has still yet to sign a carriage deal with any of the L.A. area's "other half-dozen pay TV providers," according to Lisa Richwine of REUTERS. TWC Senior VP & GM of the RSNs Mark Shuken said that execs “are working to sign other carriage deals before the first Lakers pre season game on October 7.” Shuken: "It's getting close. This pace, and this negotiating timeline, is consistent with virtually every (regional sports network) launch." He added, “We are making it very clear to the fans that we will be up and running October 1 and look forward to having agreements with all of their cable and satellite providers.” Barclays analyst James Ratcliffe said that at least 3 million people "in the greater LA market use services other than Time Warner Cable." Ratcliffe added that the biggest operator TWC needs “is satellite provider DirecTV, which has about 1.3 million subscribers in the LA area.” NBA Commissioner David Stern said that he “was ‘very optimistic’ new distributors would sign before the Lakers' first regular season game on October 31, but he conceded some fans might miss early games.” He said, "My guess is there'll be some delay in some cases, but eventually deals will be made” (REUTERS, 9/12).

ON-AIR TALENT: TWC SportsNet yesterday announced that James Worthy, Chris McGee, Dave Miller and Mike Trudell are joining the net's on-air team for Lakers broadcasts. Worthy will be the main studio analyst for Lakers games. He has hosted Lakers pre- and postgame shows on KCAL-CBS for the past three seasons. McGee will be a studio anchor and joins the net after nine years at Fox Sports. While there, he served as the Lakers' sideline reporter. Miller will take on the roles of studio analyst, commentator and reporter. Trudell will serve as a sideline reporter for all Lakers telecasts. As previously announced, Stu Lantz and Bill Macdonald will call all Lakers games on TWC SportsNet and Andy Adler, who joined the net in May, will serve as studio anchor (TWC).

TRYING TO KEEP COSTS DOWN: MULTICHANNEL NEWS' Mike Farrell noted TWC Exec VP & CFO Irene Esteves at an investor conference said that "keeping costs down was the main driver for starting the network." She said that the company "was excited about the RSN launch," but added that the sports business "is one the MSO would prefer not to be in." Esteves: "As we’ve always said, our only reason for being in this business is to ensure long-term access at reasonable rates for important sports programming. We prefer not to be in this business and if we had been charged more reasonable rates for important sports programming, we probably wouldn’t be in this position. But now that we are we’re going to make it a successful business." Although she "would not disclose how much Time Warner Cable is saving by forming the RSNs, she added that the company is confident that the net costs will be significantly lower than if the MSO was at risk of increased costs for the programming over the next 20 years" (MULTICHANNEL.com, 9/12).
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