Kevin Ding column: Satellite or cable affiliates must agree up front to pay in order for fans not to miss Lakers games on the new Time Warner Cable SportsNet, launching Oct. 1.
Ding: Concern growing about Lakers games not being on TV
By KEVIN DING
Dwight Howard and Steve Nash are here.
But Lakers games on TV aren't. Not yet anyway.
The Lakers are done with KCAL/9 and Fox Sports West, and their locally broadcast games will be on the new Time Warner Cable SportsNet channel (and Time Warner Cable Deportes, the new Spanish-language sister network).
If the provider you use for TV in your household is Time Warner Cable, you're set – because that is the only cable or satellite distributor we know right now will have Lakers games.
If you have DirecTV, Dish Network, AT&T U-Verse, Verizon FiOS, Cox Cable, Charter Communications or anyone else, you could rightly feel antsy that you won't see on Oct. 1 TWC SportsNet launch day the exclusive footage already filmed of Howard's face as he put on a gold Lakers jersey for the first time in a quiet locker-room moment after all the hullaballoo of his inaugural news conference.
Or the Oct. 7 first game uniting Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Howard and Nash, as the exhibition opener is only on TWC SportsNet.
Or the Oct. 31 road opener in Portland, just the first of 70 regular-season Lakers games on TWC SportsNet.
Or ... you could rest assured that it's unfathomable that any cable or satellite provider would incur the long-term wrath of its customers by not delivering Lakers games – a sure sell even if this wasn't the season when Kobe's sixth NBA championship is closer than ever.
"We think it's good that the fans are concerned, because it shows how much they care about the Lakers," said Lakers spokesman John Black. "We would hope the fans have confidence in our new broadcast partner – as we do – that they will get the deals done and everyone enjoys what will be a better product than ever before."
The Lakers know how many fans are so fired up that they can't stand the prospect of missing a single Nash hairstyle or discovering whether Howard's second imitation (after he already debuted an excellent Kobe one) focuses on Gasol's oft-raised eyebrows or Mike Brown's frequently flashed teeth.
Big picture: These new networks will give Lakers fans a lot more access to that sort of stuff – and even just people talking about that sort of stuff.
There will be far more extensive pregame and postgame shows – especially compared to when the road games were on KCAL/9 – plus nightly Lakers news and features. There will be 24-hour programming with no infomercials. Some Galaxy soccer, Sparks women's basketball, CIF high school action and Mountain West football and basketball ... yet mostly a lot of Lakers, such as an entire reality series covering the recent Laker Girls tryouts or the specific moment of Nash being welcomed by Jeanie Buss in her office.
It's not exactly subtle, but here's the website that Time Warner Cable has set up for anyone seeking to inquire about getting these new networks: iwantmylakers.com.
As if the acquisitions of Howard and Nash weren't enough pressure, Time Warner Cable wants subscribers to prod their local providers to ante up the $3.95 monthly fee per subscriber, according to Sports Business Daily, to carry the two new channels.
Time Warner Cable does have its own bills to pay – specifically to the Lakers in the form of $4 billion over the next 20 years (or $5 billion if the option for five more years is exercised).
"Our commitment to the Lakers and their fans for the next 20 years is to deliver in-depth stories about the organization and its players while televising the games they can't miss," said Mark Shuken, senior vice president and general manager of TWC Sports Regional Networks.
Shuken, who described the company as "thrilled that the Lakers added Dwight Howard and Steve Nash," also referred to the upcoming season as "historic."
And, well, you'll just have to tune in to his networks to find out if that's any sort of overstatement.
Negotiations on "carriage deals" usually go down to the final days, so no one should panic with a month to go. It should be said that Time Warner Cable knows how dicey these negotiations can be from being on the other side, earlier this year costing Knicks fans much of Jeremy Lin's whirlwind emergence in a dispute with MSG and today still holding out as a distributor against NFL Network and missing Padres games all season on Fox Sports San Diego.
But the notion that Lakers games won't be on TV in Southern California is ludicrous.
This isn't 2002, when Cablevision completely underestimated the Yankees' new regional sports network and held out against it. YES Network has turned out to be a fantastic success for a simple reason: People in New York love the Yankees and love watching the Yankees.
Some things are simple and true.
Lakers fans love having Howard and Nash before they even play a game, for example.
And people in Southern California will love watching the Lakers on Time Warner Cable SportsNet, even if this is the first you've heard of the network's real name or you can't help starting to sweat those tricky carriage deals not yet being done.http://www.ocregister.com/articles/lakers-369863-cable-games.html