The Clippers have surpassed the Lakers in the Pacific Division standings for a fourth consecutive season and continue to close the gap between the teams in television ratings.
The Clippers' 1.15 rating on Fox Sports' Prime Ticket through the end of 2015 was still below the Lakers' 1.68 on Time Warner Cable SportsNet, according to the Nielsen figures, but it's the closest the teams have ever been in local television ratings.
For comparison's sake, the Lakers had a 4.35 rating at the midpoint of the 2012-13 season and the Clippers a 1.5.
Even Kobe Bryant's farewell tour has not saved the Lakers from experiencing their lowest ratings since moving to Los Angeles and a 23% drop from this time last season. The Lakers are being watched by an average of 92,000 homes in the Los Angeles market, compared to the Clippers' average of 63,000 homes.
The Clippers' ratings represent a 5% drop from the same point last season.
"We are proud of the all-access coverage we dedicate to the Lakers," a Time Warner Cable spokesman said. "When it comes to viewership, in comparison to the Clippers, the ratings show that Lakers fans continue to be the most passionate fans in Los Angeles."
The Clippers may seek a new television partner after their contract with Prime Ticket expires at the end of this season. The sides are still involved in what one executive close to the situation described as "on-again, off-again discussions," but Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is also considering other options, including streaming games in a Netflix-like setup, and may be willing to try an innovative approach that entails some financial risk.
A television executive familiar with the situation said Fox has no intention of getting into a bidding war with the Clippers over rights fees in the wake of Time Warner Cable's disastrous contract with the Dodgers, whose games are still not being broadcast in a large swath of Southern California because of the refusal of rival carriers to pay for the cable station.
Fox, which has paid the Clippers about $25 million annually for broadcast rights, offered to increase the amount to $60 million per season. The Clippers countered with a request for $100 million a year.
Officials from the Clippers and Fox declined to comment. The NBA must approve any team's local television contract.
The radio station that carries Clippers games, KFWB-AM 980, is expected to abandon its all-sports format next month, leaving the team in search of a new home.
The Clippers are in the first year of a five-year contract with 980 and have the option to remain with the station but would prefer to avoid being a part of a lineup that is expected to include exclusively foreign language programming after being sold to a new owner.
The team's goal is to reach a deal with another radio station by next month after having been on 980 since 2009.
Here to stay
Luc Mbah a Moute either didn't realize that Clippers Coach Doc Rivers also controlled personnel decisions as the team's president of basketball operations or was being coy when informed that Rivers confirmed Mbah a Moute would remain with the Clippers beyond Thursday, the NBA deadline to waive players with non-guaranteed contracts.
"I'm going to wait until [Thursday]," said Mbah a Moute, whose $1.3-million contract will become guaranteed for the rest of the season. "I don't assume anything."
Mbah a Moute has been one of the most pleasant surprises among the Clippers' newcomers, becoming a regular in the starting lineup thanks to his defense.
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