TWC SportsNet, Deportes Investing Millions More In Lakers Than Previous Rights Holders
Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Spanish-language Time Warner Cable Deportes are “poised to spend many millions" more on programming and promotion devoted to the Lakers than previous rights holders Fox Sports West and KCAL-CBS, according to Joe Flint of the L.A. TIMES. Among SportsNet's news shows is "Backstage Lakers," which will "take fans to previously off-limits areas, including the executive suites and locker rooms." Although the channels are “100% owned by Time Warner Cable, the Lakers have a lot of editorial control, including final cut over ‘Backstage Lakers’ and other shows about the franchise.” Lakers Senior VP/Business Operations Tim Harris said, "The approval rights were born out of a desire to be more involved in how our brand is portrayed." Flint notes the Lakers also “have a lot of sway over who will cover the team, as evidenced by Time Warner Cable's backtracking on hiring former Boston Red Sox reporter Heidi Watney.” The channels are set to "go live Monday." TWC in order to make the channels pay off “must get other distributors in the area to carry the networks,” and thus far “none is rushing to sign a contract.” The company is “hoping its heavy investment in original programming beyond the games and forgoing infomercials … will help sell the networks to other distributors.” TWC would not “divulge what it is seeking for the two channels,” but sources said that the price tag is “as much as $3.95 per subscriber per month for both channels depending on what part of Southern California a distributor serves.” A Cox spokesperson said, "We understand that the Lakers are popular sports programming, but that programming comes at an extremely high price" (L.A. TIMES, 9/26).