http://www.ocregister.com/sports/lakers-374567-time-team.htmlLakers: TV deadlock brings creativity
By JEFF MILLER; 2012-10-15 00:02:00
It's a different team now, bolstered by a big-time, big-money addition and adjusting to significant change.
So, it will take some time to sort out things and quiet the confusion concerning the Lakers.
And that's just with their new television package.
Here's how chaotic the team's switch to Time Warner Cable is at the moment:
Even the Lakers' coach isn't sure if his family can get the games in their Anaheim Hills home.
"We're still a little unclear on that," Mike Brown says. "I'd like my wife and kids to be able to see me coach, you know? How's that whole thing working, anyway?"
The short answer, Coach, not well. Not well at all, so far.
Time Warner, the Lakers' new $3 billion TV partner, is locked in negotiations with other area providers – including DirecTV, Charter, Dish, Cox, Verizon and AT&T U-verse – to pick up its two new Laker-centric channels, SportsNet and Deportes.
The asking price is reported to be $3.95 per subscriber per month. The providers, however, are holding out for a better deal in hopes of keeping rates low for customers.
This is still just the preseason – the Lakers play Utah on Tuesday night at Honda Center – but fans who can't find their team on their TV are, in some cases, a bit uneasy and, in other cases, flat ornery.
During the Lakers exhibition Saturday at Staples Center, fans booed every time a Time Warner commercial was shown inside the arena.
Interest in the team, never lacking, is especially high this fall, the Lakers having added all-stars Dwight Howard and Steve Nash and a mountain of expectations.
One local media outlet called this "one of the team's most compelling exhibition seasons ever." While this is sort of like being designated "the most meaningful of the meaningless," it is true.
With the start of the regular season only two weeks away, a situation that is nagging to many could blossom into the full-blown unrest of Laker Nation. And this is a nation that swells with passion.
"It is such a shame that such an exciting time for the Lakers and their fans can only be selectively enjoyed," said Erika Gula of Walnut. "How can you follow a team that you simply cannot watch? Please help bring Laker peace to my home."
The good news is that it's in the best interest of each party involved to resolve the situation. Even better, the dominant opinion is that things will be cleared up by the opening of the regular season or shortly thereafter.
In the meantime, however, many fans either are helplessly shut out or forced to explore creative ways to get their Lakers.
"I had to do something," says Behrod Ganjifard, owner of OC Sports Grill, which is near Angel Stadium. "I need the Lakers games. We're a Lakers bar and we can't show the games? We might as well shut the doors and close down."
Located in an area that doesn't offer Time Warner, Ganjifard did what everyone does now when looking for answers. He went to his computer and Googled it.
There he figured out he could subscribe to Time Warner at his home, invest in a Slingbox and show the Lakers games at OC Sports Grill through his laptop. Hey, the guy does have a degree in computer science from Cal Poly Pomona.
He estimates the Lakers bring in 30 to 40 percent of his business and more than 50 percent when they make a deep playoff run. The last time the Lakers advanced to the NBA Finals, in 2010, Ganjifard's place regularly reached capacity on game nights.
So, for him, it was worth spending $200 on a Slingbox and an extra $50 for overnight shipping and boosting his home's Internet connection and turning off OC Sports Grill's WiFi service to conserve bandwidth.
"I want to pay for the service," he says. "I'd be glad to. That's not the issue. The problem is they won't deliver to us. So this is a necessary risk. It's like when your wife's having a baby and you speed going to the hospital. It's a chance you have to take."
Yes, until this deadlock is broken, these will be strange times for many Lakers viewers. The team's telecasts, for example, aren't even available to the team itself. The Lakers' practice facility in El Segundo has DirecTV.
So, when the team he built opened the preseason with a game in Fresno last week, general manager Mitch Kupchak was forced to go to Time Warner's studios to see it.
Similarly, Brown is a DirecTV customer. But he also has Time Warner service in the bedrooms of his sons, Cameron and Elijah. For that Fresno game, unable to locate the telecast on DirecTV, the boys watched on the family computer.
They were unaware that, in another part of the house, the telecast actually was available.
"So my wife (Carolyn) needs to go to either Cameron's room or Elijah's room and lay in bed and watch TV with them," Brown says. "OK. That should do it. I'll have to make sure they know that."
Register staff writer Janis Carr contributed to this report.