SBD/November 16, 2012/Media

DirecTV, TWC Strike Deal For L.A. RSNs, Leaving Dish Network As Biggest Holdout Left

DirecTV subscribers in L.A. will be able to watch tonight's Lakers game
DirecTV subscribers in L.A. Friday night will be able to watch the Lakers on Time Warner Cable SportsNet -- and for the rest of the season -- after the satellite operator on Thursday signed a long-term carriage deal for TWCSN and the Spanish-language TWC Deportes. The deal leaves Dish Network as the biggest remaining holdout. Sources said that DirecTV originally had resisted doing any deal that would include the Spanish-language TWC Deportes (John Ourand, THE DAILY).

CITY OF ANGELS: In L.A., Joe Flint notes the agreement ended a "long standoff." Many "bars and restaurants with DirecTV have seen their businesses take a hit without having Lakers games on the big screen." For TWC, "getting the DirectTV deal done removes its biggest headache." With 1.7 million subscribers in Southern California, having DirecTV "on board is crucial to the long-term success" of TWCSN. TWC was "seeking as much as $3.95 per subscriber, per month, for the two channels." With DirecTV "out of the way, the last hurdle" for TWC is Dish Network, the satellite broadcaster that "has about 850,000 subscribers in the region." Now that "everyone else is on board, Dish may think it needs the channel to avoid being at a competitive disadvantage in the market" (L.A. TIMES, 11/16). Santa Monica-based Desser Sports Media President Ed Desser, who helped negotiate the Lakers' deal with TWC, when asked what could have spurred the TWC-DirecTV deal, said, "I don't think it was really about the coaching change, because the die was cast over the summer when the team got Dwight Howard and Steve Nash -- this isn't a knee-jerk reaction." Desser added, "The coaching news may have reminded everyone just how high-profile this team is. It's an indication of the power and importance this team has in this market" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 11/16). The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Ben Block noted TWC had "demanded that the two channels be carried on the most basic tier of service" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 11/15). In California, Jim Carlisle notes the agreement covers "only the 1.3 million subscribers DirecTV has in California from Fresno to the Mexican border, along with those in Las Vegas and Hawaii" (VENTURA COUNTY STAR, 11/16).

POWER TO THE PEOPLE! In L.A., Chris Erskine writes, "If you're still among the 850,000 customers missing out on Lakers games, there are deals to be had in the standoff." Before DirecTV reached its agreement Thursday, it was "doing handsprings to keep customers." These "showdowns with regional sports providers are here to stay." Erskine: "So don't just sit back and mutter over these stupid disputes. Exploit them" (L.A. TIMES, 11/16).

IN OTHER RSN NEWS: In Houston, David Barron noted there is "nothing new ... in the ongoing carriage contretemps" for Comcast SportsNet Houston. The new RSN is "negotiating with DirecTV, Dish, AT&T U-verse and other area cable systems, and Rockets fans who subscribe to those services continue to be left in the cold" (CHRON.com, 11/15). The L.A. TIMES' Flint in a separate piece noted a "potential battle for the Dodgers was no doubt a motivating factor" in News Corp.'s efforts to secure a minority stake in YES Network. The "last thing Fox Sports wants to see is Time Warner Cable get a piece of YES." Also, should Fox "lose the TV rights to the Dodgers on top of the Lakers, having a stake in YES is not a bad consolation prize" (LATIMES.com, 11/15).
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Time Warner, Media, NBA, DirecTV

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