And the rich get richer…
Time Warner Cable — which already provides service to much of the Los Angeles area — will launch a two new regional sports cable channels in the Los Angeles marketplace in 2012 with the Lakers as part of the package, the team and company announced jointly Monday.
The Lakers will be the cornerstones of those stations for 20 years starting with the 2012-13 season. While the financial details are not yet public, for the Lakers to jump ship from Fox Sports where they have been for two decades you know this has to be very, very lucrative for the team. This will also mean the end of Lakers road games broadcast on KCAL 9 in the city.
The new Time Warner stations will be available to other carries in the Los Angeles region, such as Charter Cable, Verizon FIOS, DirecTV, etc.
Right now the two Fox Sports stations — Fox Sports West and the recently rebranded Prime Ticket — were the only game in town. They have the Clippers, Dodgers, Angels, Ducks, Kings, USC and UCLA (and Pac-10) packages. All of those sports entities just got a lot more negotiating leverage.
But the Lakers are the big dog in Los Angeles. With the absence of an NFL team in Los Angeles for nearly two decades, the Lakers have grown into the dominant sport franchise in the city. By far. And because of the Lakers history of success through multiple generations, even an NFL team would have trouble unseating them.
Key to this deal — they draw the best ratings. Just having them on board makes the Time Warner venture more than instantly credible, it makes it an instant powerhouse in the market.
Time Warner is launching two stations, one is a Spanish only regional sports station, the first of its kind in the nation. It’s a smart move, with a large Hispanic presence in Los Angeles the market is there. Also, the Lakers are popular in that community so this benefits both sides.
This kind of deal however is the kind of thing that NBA owners need to hash out amongst themselves in conjunction with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Currently, NBA teams get to keep all of their local television revenue. So the Grizzlies have to compete with what they can get out of the Memphis market, the Bucks out of the Milwaukee market, and the Lakers keep all the bank from the Los Angeles market deal. And you wonder why the Lakers can afford a $91 million payroll?
For there to be any real sense of competitive balance in the NBA Jerry Buss is going to have to cough up some of that money to the smaller markets. Same with James Dolan and Cablevision. And so on and so on with the big markets. Otherwise you end up with the Yankees and Red Sox in baseball.