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.