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Volume 24 No. 156
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Reviews In For TWC SportsNet's First Lakers Games; Studio Show Has "Rough Edges"

NBA fans in L.A. who have been able to see the new Time Warner Cable SportsNet this season "know that for the most part, Lakers games look like they always have," according to Jim Carlisle of the VENTURA COUNTY STAR. The most "annoying thing about the network so far is that its in-game graphics are ridiculously difficult to read, even for people with better eyes than mine." Carlisle: "Word of advice for SportsNet: Purple or blue lettering on a black background is never a good idea." Another "problem is that SportsNet's studio shows, such as 'Access SportsNet: Lakers,' still have a lot of rough edges. ESPN it's not." In fact, it also is "not ESPNU or even CBS Sports Network." It looks "a lot closer to local cable access. Think 'Wayne's World.'" This likely will "improve as time goes on, but it's not a selling point so far." Many of the network's "documentaries, however, have been well produced." Meanwhile, there has been speculation that TWCSN is "fine with adding other cable companies because they don't directly compete with them in the cities they serve." However, the company might not "care that much about adding providers it does compete with, such as DirecTV and Dish, because that situation could bring more subscribers to TWC." That would have "also been true of Verizon and AT&T, so that theory has holes in it" (VENTURA COUNTY STAR, 11/2).

DODGING A DEAL: In L.A., Joe Flint notes, "One reason DirecTV and Cox are reluctant to sign on for SportsNet and Deportes, at least at the price Time Warner Cable wants (as much as $3.95 per subscriber, per month, according to industry sources), is that they know they also face a big fee increase with regards to the Dodgers down the road." The Dodgers now get "about $40 million a season" from FS Prime Ticket. Fox is "currently trying to negotiate an agreement with Guggenheim Partners to keep the team on Prime Ticket." It also is "no secret" that TWC wants the Dodgers for TWCSN. A bidding war could "drive the price beyond" the $3B Fox offered to former Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt and "whatever network gets the team will no doubt seek a big increase in license fees for the channel from pay-TV distributors" (L.A. TIMES, 11/2). 

ZERO SUM GAME: The VENTURA COUNTY STAR's Carlisle in a separate piece asks, "What have losing Lakers telecasts and having the NHL in a lockout done to Fox Sports West? Nearly rendered it mute." FS West next week will "have only four live weekday events," with two of those being morning UEFA Champions League matches and another the ACC men's basketball season opener featuring Gardner-Webb-North Carolina. The "only local event is a high school football playoff game." The net has "three live events next weekend, all on Saturday and none of them local: two Big 12 Conference football games along with one from Conference USA" (VENTURA COUNTY STAR, 11/2).

NEW TOY: In L.A., Tom Hoffarth notes FS Prime Ticket "plans on raising the bar even more and pulling out more stops as new lines of demarcation are drawn." The real star attraction "could be a new gadget called LiberoVision, the first of its kind for a Fox Sports regional network which has allowed analyst Kiki Vandeweghe to post up with and present as a cutting-edge graphic a way to better explain why things happen on the court." With LiberoVision, "the 3D 'axis' type of replay is taken up a notch, more than just freezing the action, twisting the playing field and allowing for a different look at the same play." LiberoVision adds "colored arrows, numbers, shaded areas, streaks and swooshes -- all the kinds of things an NBA coach would love to have in a film room" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 11/2).