SBD/November 5, 2012/Media

Cox Strikes Deal With TWC SportsNet; DirecTV, Dish Still Holding Out

Cox Communications has "reached an agreement to carry" Time Warner Cable SportsNet, according to Joe Flint of the L.A. TIMES. Cox is "expected to start carrying SportsNet and its Spanish-language companion channel Deportes early this week and in time" for Wednesday's Jazz-Lakers game. That leaves TWC with "two big holdouts -- satellite broadcasters DirecTV and Dish Network." TWC "hopes that having Cox on board will put more pressure on DirecTV to also start carrying the channel." Cox has about 1.2 million subscribers in Southern California, many of which are in Orange County." Given that "every other distributor in the area is now carrying SportsNet and Deportes, it may be difficult for DirecTV to continue to refuse to cut a deal." However, DirecTV also still is "not carrying the Pac-12 cable channel that features USC and UCLA despite intense public pressure to offer it" (L.A. TIMES, 11/5). In California, Michael Lev notes Cox accounts for "about 5 percent of the L.A. market." TWC SportsNet is "now available in about 61 percent of the market" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 11/5). In San Diego, John Maffei notes Cox customers have "missed several Lakers games, but the bulk of the TV schedule is still ahead." Meanwhile, the first San Diego State basketball game on TWCSN will be Dec. 3 against Texas Southern (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 11/5).

TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A.: In this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, John Ourand takes an in-depth look at the TV landscape in the greater L.A. area and notes with the launch of TWC's two RSNs and the Pac-12 Network over the last three months, the market has "become a sort of ground zero for sports media, with consumers, businesses, distributors and rights holders trying to navigate a new sports media landscape where local rights are divided among a growing number of high-priced sports channels." Add on top of those nets that the Dodgers could still potentially start "their own channel when their rights deal with Fox ends after next season (sources say that remains an option), and local rights in Los Angeles would become more expensive and spread out than in any other U.S. market." If the L.A. model "proves successful, the tremors could be felt throughout the country as other big markets that have multiple professional and college sports teams give it a try." Some analysts "even say it could change the entire pay-TV system." Cox Senior VP/Content Acquisition Bob Wilson said, “I’m worried that it could become a trend in other markets. Everybody’s watching the Lakers and the Dodgers to see what the market will absorb. We’ve been on this path for a long time now. We all are wondering where the breaking point is” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 11/5 issue).
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