AT&T-Fox; Sports deal has Time Warner Cable execs shaking their heads

AT&T; has struck a deal to carry the regional sports network Fox Sports San Diego, which has the majority of Padres games, on its U-Verse pay-TV service.

You might wonder why this is newsworthy to the folks of Los Angeles. Well, AT&T; still hasn’t struck a deal to carry Time Warner Cable’s SportsNet or the Spanish-language Deportes, the new regional channels launched earlier this week that are the only local outlets to see Lakers games. ATT’s U-Verse has about 425,000 subscribers in the Los Angeles area.

That AT&T; has wrapped up an agreement for Fox Sports San Diego before SportsNet and Deportes has some Time Warner Cable executives shaking their heads.

Cost clearly isn’t an issue. Fox Sports San Diego costs more than Time Warner Cable’s Los Angeles networks. According to people familiar with the matter, Fox’s San Diego channel is over $4 per subscriber per month while Time Warner Cable’s is $3.95.

Interestingly, while Time Warner Cable is upset that AT&T; hasn’t signed on to carry its channels in L.A., it still isn’t carrying Fox Sports San Diego. Time Warner Cable had unsuccessfully tried to woo the Padres to be the anchor of a new sports channel there.


Its efforts, though, did force Fox to spend a lot more than it had probably anticipated shelling out to keep the Padres games. That’s the main reason the price tag for that channel is so high and out of whack with the subscriber fees for other regional sports networks in bigger markets.

An AT&T; spokesman declined to comment on the status of its talks with Time Warner Cable.

AT&T;'s U-Verse is hardly the biggest fish for Time Warner Cable. DirecTV has over 1.7 million subscribers here and Cox has about 1.2 million.

Lakers fans who are not Time Warner Cable subscribers are probably starting to get antsy, but the regular season is still almost four weeks away. These agreements are usually hammered out at the last minute, when everyone feels like they have a gun to their head.

The early ratings for SportsNet are not bad considering it is only available in Time Warner Cable’s 2.3 million homes. On Wednesday, its 11 p.m. telecast of the Lakers 2010 finals win against Boston was the fifth most-watched program in Los Angeles among men 18-34.

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Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.

This post was updated with regards to the price of the Fox Sports San Diego channel.