Time Warner Cable Announces Names, October 1 Launch Date For New L.A. RSNs
Time Warner Cable announced its two new L.A.-based RSNs -- Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes -- will launch Oct. 1, and the company "over the next few weeks ... will open negotiations with other distributors," according to Joe Flint of the L.A. TIMES. TWC also "has to secure distribution deals for SportsNet and Deportes from satellite broadcasters DirecTV and Dish Network Corp., as well as from other cable operators serving the region.” The two channels are "being sold as a package." However, some distributors already “are expressing concern about being gouged.” DirecTV Exec VP/Content Strategy & Development Derek Chang said, “We’ve got a big problem in our industry with the rising costs of programming, and sports is probably the biggest driver. Any time you introduce a new pricey channel, that’s probably not a good thing for subscribers.” Flint notes TWC “isn’t saying how much it wants from distributors," but financial firm ISI Group analyst Vijay Jayant “put the price at $2.50 per month per subscriber.” Industry sources said that the estimate "is low and that the company will demand $3.50 for the two services.” The channels have the rights to the Lakers, MLS Galaxy and WNBA Sparks, and Flint notes it is "unlikely a distributor would risk not having the Lakers for long.” The team averaged more than 300,000 viewers on FS West and KCAL-CBS for the ’11-12 regular season, “more than the Dodgers, Angels, Clippers, Kings and Ducks combined.” Meanwhile, TWC Deportes “will have its own identity and not just be a dubbed version of the English network.” The channel will "have its own production teams for live sports and will carry boxing wrestling and international soccer” (L.A. TIMES, 5/10).
STARTING TO TALK TO DISTRIBUTORS: TWC Sports President David Rone said that he, Senior VP & GM Mark Shuken and Senior VP Dan Finnerty "recently began discussions with potential distributors." Rone: "We have not had many of them, they literally began last week. In between now and the NCTA Cable Show (which starts May 21 in Boston), we will have gotten in front of all the MVPDs that we need to speak to." MULTICHANNEL NEWS' Mike Reynolds notes with 35 people on board, TWC Sports is "in the process of hiring and expects to have some 120 staffers in place for the two RSN's by the end of August." Rone said that filming is "underway for ancillary programming tied to the Galaxy and Sparks -- the teams' games have been sublicensed to L.A.-area stations this season prior to the RSNs' launch." However, consumer marketing has not begun because TWC Sports "doesn't officially acquire the Lakers rights until after the club finishes its 2011-12 NBA season" (MULTICHANNEL.com, 5/10).