Major Shift in L.A.: Outside of the Occasional National Broadcast, No Lakers Games on Free, Over-the-Air TV, as Team Signs Huge Deal With Time Warner Cable

Feb 15, 2011  •  Post A Comment

Spurning their two current rights holders, Fox Sports West and KCAL-TV, the Los Angeles Lakers have struck a deal to create two regional sports channels, reports the Los Angeles Times’ Company Town blog.

The new 20-year agreement with Time Warner Cable is a blow to both Fox Sports West and KCAL, and means that with the loss of the tie to KCAL, no Lakers games will be available via free over-the-air television, the story points out. CBS-owned KCAL currently carries 41 games each season.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but the agreement will start with the 2012-13 season, with all Lakers games except national telecasts aired only on cable. While some industry participants pegged the pact at a $3 billion value, Time Warner dismissed the figure, the story notes. The Lakers were receiving about $30 million a year in rights fees in the current deal with Fox Sports West.

One of the two cable networks, which aren’t yet named, will reportedly be a Spanish-language network with its own production team.

Time Warner Cable will also be looking at other sports for additional opportunities, according to Melinda Witmer, executive vice president and chief programming officer of Time Warner Cable. The article speculates that the company might next target the Dodgers, with the team’s current deal with Fox’s Prime Ticket channel expiring in 2013.


  1. Bob Johnson tried that in Charlotte with the Bobcats. It was a failure. Granted, they are not the Lakers, but in today’s economy with many people dropping cable to save money, all you’ll do is tick off your fans. Plus you won’t be grooming the next generation of fans, since they won’t be able to see the team. Think it’s a bad move in the long run.

  2. Short-sighted team management, assuming they want to build a continuing fan base. I keep thinking about Howard Stern. A national media powerhouse…till he want to Pay Radio. Sure, he made more money, but his days as a national touchstone are long behind him.
    On the other hand, i don’t watch b-ball (except maybe the NBA finals) so I hope my rival cable company (AT&T U-verse) does not try to match these outrageous sports fees and place them on the bottom tier making us all pay for the privilege.
    I can’t tell you how annoying it is to be forced to pay for sports channels just to be able to get all the high-rated cable channels missing in the bottom tier.
    If the cable companies don’t offer a la carte pricing soon, I’ll pull the plug and go with Netflix, Hulu and AppleTV, and save money in the long run…

  3. The owners of the Lakers obviously didn’t speak with the owners of the heat. When they took their games off broadcast ratings (and interest) plummeted.

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