As Kevin Ding of the OC Register reports, many fans are getting antsy about whether they will be able to watch Lakers games on their own TVs next season.
As many of you may know, the Lakers struck a 20-year, $4 billion deal with Time Warner Cable which gives them the exclusive rights to all non-nationally televised games.
If you have Time Warner Cable, you’re set. But if you don’t, you’re probably wondering, “where the heck am I going to watch my Lakers?”
I am in/on the same boat (I never know whether it’s “in” or “on” since most people would say “I’m just about to get on the boat,” but when they use this expression, they say “I’m in the same boat”).
Anyway, back to broadcasting situation.
TWC will create two new channels–SportsNet and Deportes–which will carry both Lakers home and away games in English and Spanish.
With this deal comes good and bad news, so which one do you want first? I usually take the bad news first, so here goes:
As Joe Flint of the Los Angeles Times reported back in 2011, there are approximately 620,000 homes in the area that do not have a form of pay-TV and will be out of luck, to put it bluntly. Those same households at least got the benefit of watching half the games on their own TVs (road games were broadcast on local channel KCAL 9, while home games were broadcast on Fox Sports West), previously.
As for pay-TV companies (i.e. DirecTV, Dish Network, AT&T U-Verse, Verizon FiOS, Cox Cable, Charter Communications, etc.), there are currently no deals in place which would allow them to broadcast the two aforementioned channels.
The additions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash will be at least partially funded by the money the Lakers will receive from TWC, and undoubtedly should make the Lakers legitimate title contenders once again, but it comes at a price; about $4 per month, per household, that each cable provider is going to have to pay.
That is the rate TWC intends to charge other pay-TV companies for the rights to their channel.
But, this is where the good news comes in.
Personally, I don’t mind paying $4 a month to watch my favorite sports team, but it’s all about convincing each cable provider (who will be the ones actually paying this cost) that it’s a worthy expense. Sure, no one likes having to pay anything extra, but with a starting lineup consisting of Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, and Dwight Howard, next season will be “must see TV.”
If you’re a die-hard fan, you can take solace in the fact that those annual $48 you have to cough up (assuming the price of your cable does increase due to their higher costs) actually helped Lakers’ management in their decision to take on such a high payroll, who will face extremely severe luxury taxes in the near future. In other words, you’re getting taxed a little bit, but Dr. Buss is getting taxed much, much more; but it’s all in the spirit of winning.
As for what you’ll get in return besides being able to watch your favorite basketball team?
Well, SportsNet will also carry LA Galaxy and LA Sparks games along with CIF high school regular season and playoff games.
As for TWC Deportes, it will be the first 24/7 Spanish-language regional sports network and will feature all Lakers and Galaxy games (minus nationally-televised ones, of course).
Another benefit from this new channel will be the increased access to the Lakers, with more time being dedicated to capturing unique moments–such as Dwight Howard putting on his purple and gold jersey for the first time in a quiet locker-room.
Additionally, there will be extensive pre-game and post-game analysis for both home and away games as well as TWC’s commitment to keeping up with the times via online streaming and social networking.
What should you do?
Well, if you don’t have TWC and you don’t care how much your cable provider needs to pay to get access to watching the 70 locally-televised regular season Lakers games the two new channels will cover, you need to let your television provider know.
TWC has set up a website (iwantmylakers.com) to help fans with the process of demanding their providers negotiate with TWC so we can all watch the Lakers next season. You simply enter your zip code at the top, select your current provider, and then hit “Request TWC Sportsnet.”
I had previously contacted my provider–Charter Communications–but received a non-committal answer when I asked if they would be providing SportsNet or not. Unfortunately for me, TWC isn’t available in my area, so I have to rely on Charter Communications to do the right thing and buy the channels. I’m hoping all the other pay-TV companies do the same.
It’s a safe bet to say that some–if not most–companies won’t have deals in place by the October 1 debut of SportsNet and Deportes, but they may not even have coverage by the October 31 road-opener.
For me, I simply cannot go without watching a Lakers game, and I know many of you can’t, either.
Additionally, I don’t want to have to hit up a bar every time I want to see my team–I already drink too much alcohol, and would like to spare my liver as much as possible.
It’s unfortunate for many fans who can’t afford pay-TV, but $4 per month for fans who already pay for TV services is a small price to pay to witness a super team such as the Lakers have constructed.
So in that case, I’m imploring all of Lakers Nation to go to that website and request that your TV provider get SportsNet.
You do want to watch the Lakers play next season, don’t you?
In case you missed it – our interview with the new Time Warner Cable Sports staff!