Cox Cable has reached an agreement to carry Time Warner Cable’s sports channel SportsNet, which is the new local television home for the Los Angeles Lakers.
The agreement ends a standoff between the two companies that had been going on for weeks. Cox is expected to start carrying SportsNet and its Spanish-language companion channel Deportes early this week and in time for Wednesday’s Lakers game against the Utah Jazz.
That only leaves Time Warner Cable with two big holdouts -- satellite broadcasters DirecTV and Dish Network. Time Warner Cable hopes that having Cox on board will put more pressure on DirecTV to also start carrying the channel. Getting Dish to carry it is seen as more of a long shot given the company’s well-known reluctance to carry high-priced sports programming such as SportsNet.
Cox Cable has about 1.2 million subscribers in Southern California, many of which are in Orange County. It is the third-largest pay-TV distributor in the region. Time Warner Cable, which has 2.3 million subscribers in the region and DirecTV, which has 1.7 million subcribers.
Time Warner Cable had already reached distribution agreements with the other major distributors in the area including Charter Commuications, Verizon FiOS and AT&T; U-Verse.
DirecTV, which used to embrace sports programming to hook subscribers, has as of late been trying to take a hard line against rising programming costs. Time Warner Cable is seeking as much as $3.95 per-subscriber, per-month for SportsNet and Deportes.
Given that every other distributor in the area is now carrying SportsNet and Deportes, it may be difficult for DirecTV to continue to refuse to cut a deal. However, DirecTV also still is not carrying the Pac-12 cable channel that features USC and UCLA despite intense public pressure to offer it.
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