More Los Angeles area Laker’s fans can slowly start to breathe easy now that Time Warner Cable has reached a deal with not only Charter Communications on Thursday, but Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-verse this weekend.
The Lakers announced on their website this afternoon that AT&T U-verse will launch Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes beginning October 30. Both channels will serve as serve as the local television homes not only to the Los Angeles Lakers, but the Los Angeles Sparks and LA Galaxy as well.
The $3 billion deal that hurt fans
Time Warner Cable, who paid $3 billion for 20 years for broadcast rights for the Lakers, launched their new channels October 1. The announcement that Time Warner Cable would control the broadcast rights and make the Laker’s games available only on their new cable channels—essentially saying if viewers and fans did not have Time Warner, they would be out of luck watching their favorite team—sent Los Angeles area Lakers fans into an angry frenzy demanding their respective cable and satellite companies pick up the channels.
The problem between Time Warner and its competitors is that Time Warner is shopping the two channels as a package deal and insisting on a reported asking price of $3.95 per subscriber per month. While that might not sound like much to an average viewer not dealing with cable and satellite television subscriber fees, keep in mind that ESPN gets a reported $5.13 per subscriber per month for their channel. Consider all that is available on ESPN, then consider that those channels that Time Warner Cable are selling only will be showing a lineup consisting of the Lakers, the WNBA’s LA Sparks and Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy.
It is most likely only a matter of time before DirecTV and the other hold-outs give in to the pressure. There are now enough competitors for fans to jump ship to one of several providers if theirs does not reach an agreement with Time Warner in time for the official first game this season. Of course, this would not be such a big issue if the tickets to see the Lakers live did not start at $35/seat for the nosebleed areas with the average price over $200/seat or more. It is, after all, the fans that make the following for the team—it is just disappointing when the team makes it hard for the fans to do their job. If the Lakers really wanted to give back, they should make the nosebleed seats cheap enough for families to take their kids for a treat. After all, they did just bring in $3 billion for their television fees.