Lakers Ink 20-Year Cable TV Deal

by February 15, 2011

Team owner Jerry Buss has basically been given yet another license to print money. The LA Times reports: “Time Warner Cable has struck a game-changing TV deal with the Lakers to create two new regional sports channels — one in English and one in Spanish — that will use the world champions as their backbone. The 20-year agreement, which kicks off with the 2012-13 season, covers all preseason, regular-season and postseason games that are not nationally telecast.The marriage of the Lakers and Time Warner Cable is a major blow to Fox Sports West and KCAL-TV, the current rights holders. It is also bad news for Lakers fans who don’t subscribe to a pay-TV service, because no games will be available for free on over-the-air television once the Time Warner Cable deal takes effect. About 620,000 homes do not have a subscription to a pay-TV provider. There had been rumblings that the Lakers were looking to start their own channel or find a new partner when Time Warner Cable came calling soon after the exclusive negotiating window Fox Sports had with the Lakers expired at the end of last year. ‘The courtship happened quickly,’ said Tim Harris, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for the Lakers, who acknowledged the team did consider going solo on its own network. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Under its deal with Fox Sports West, the Lakers were getting about $30 million a year in rights fees, people familiar with the situation said. Some industry observers pegged the new 20-year pact at a value of $3 billion, although Time Warner Cable dismissed that figure.”