New Lakers stars give Time Warner Cable reason to cheer

Lakers fans aren’t the only ones cheering the recent additions of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard to the team’s starting lineup.

Time Warner Cable is also probably sending Lakers brass a big thank-you note. In October, Time Warner Cable will launch both English-language and Spanish-language sports channels in Los Angeles, and a strong Lakers team is key to the company’s success.

The addition of two superstars to the team will give the cable company a little more juice in negotiations for distribution with satellite broadcasters DirecTV and Dish as well as AT&T;'s Uverse and other pay-TV providers in the region.

So far, the only distributor Time Warner Cable has persuaded to carry its two channels is itself. Though Time Warner Cable has about 2 million subscribers in Southern California, it needs the other distributors, particularly DirecTV, to be a success.


Time Warner Cable is asking distributors to pay almost $4.00 per-month, per-subscriber to carry the two channels. That’s more than any other regional sports network in the country, according to industry consulting from SNL Kagan.

With over 1 million subscribers in this area, DirecTV is crucial. But the satellite broadcaster has been playing hardball with programmers as of late. It got into a very public battle with Viacom, parent of Nickelodeon and Comedy Central, over a new deal and even stopped carrying its channels until the two finally reached an agreement.

Although the launch of Time Warner Cable’s sports networks is only about six weeks away, talks with DirecTV and other distributors are not likely to heat up until mid-to-late September.

If DirecTV ends up not reaching a deal with Time Warner Cable, sports fans won’t be totally out of luck. DirecTV just signed an agreement to carry beIn Sport, an Al Jazeera-owned sports channel that specializes in soccer.



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