Kobe Bryant. Dwight Howard. Steve Nash. Pau Gasol. Metta World Peace. This is the starting lineup for Los Angeles’ marquee team, and as of right now, most of the city and its surrounding areas won’t be able to watch them take the hardwood this upcoming season.
On Monday, Time Warner Cable launched a new sports network that is set to be the exclusive home of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Time Warner Cable SportsNet is also the home of The Los Angeles Galaxy soccer team and WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks. Though there will be other teams and sports featured on the channel because of the high price tag, it is assumed that the network will be centered around the Lakers.
Time Warner reached a reported $4 billion, 20-year deal with the Lakers organization to launch the network.
It is a great deal for the Lakers and Time Warner Cable, but it leaves millions of fans in the Los Angeles area in the dark. In Southern California, DirecTV has close to 1.7 million subscribers, Cox has 1.2 million and Dish Network has 885,000 and there is currently no deal in place for these providers to get the network.
In fact, there are no deals in place with any other cable service provider and Time Warner subscribers are the only ones in the Los Angeles area that are set to see the Lakers play this upcoming season. With less than a month left before the season starts, many Lakers fans have expressed fear of missing not only opening night, but the entire NBA season.
The channel comes along with the first-ever all Spanish language sports network, Time Warner Cable Deportes. The two channels will come at a hefty price if any providers want to make a deal, as Time Warner is asking as much as $3.95 per month, per subscriber for both networks.
For what Time Warner wants for the channels, it would make the channels among the most expensive in the entire country. Judging from the difficulties providers have already had with television networks, it’s going to be a tall task to ask for that kind of money. Dish Network is currently in an on-going battle with AMC network and just last year DirecTV and News Corp. had to come to terms over more than two dozen Fox cable networks.
The real losers in all of this are the Laker fans who don’t have Time Warner as a provider. Even fans that didn’t have a cable provider had the solace of watching road games on local channel KCAL 9. This upcoming season will be the first time in 36 years that Lakers games will not be shown on KCAL 9. All games, road and away, with the exception of the required nationally televised games, will be shown on Time Warner Cable SportsNet this season.
As I mentioned earlier, fans are very excited as the Lakers boast one of the most impressive lineups in their long and illustrious history. The organization was able to acquire superstar center Dwight Howard and veteran point guard Steve Nash, which has left those in La La Land salivating over the start of the upcoming season. Without the network, fans will be unable to witness the genesis of this re-invigorated squad trying to make a run at the NBA title.
The Lakers are as big a part of Los Angeles as palm trees, beaches, movie stars and In-N-Out Burger. The organization has set the gold standard in the city as they have the second most NBA championships in the entire NBA with 16, and the most in the 2000s era.
The Lakers are an institution that even outshine the many stars that sit courtside (with the exception of Jack Nicholson). Los Angeles can’t allow Time Warner to black out the Lakers’ shine.