Across the nation, sports rights are selling at escalating rates. That is reflected in the sale price of sports franchises, as teams such as the Cleveland Browns recently sold for $1 billion. Teams that are seen as being the elite of their sport and located in major media markets are sitting pretty. Case in point, the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association.
It was announced today that Charter Communications, the fourth-largest cable company in America, has agreed to carry Time Warner SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes. The network has 360,000 subscribers in Southern California.
Right after this deal was announced, Time Warner announced a deal with Verizon FIOS to carry the new Lakers-centric sports network, similar to the YES Network in New York City (that airs New York Yankees programs and games).
Time Warner has asked for $3.95 per subscriber per month for the new service, which has caused the major cable networks to balk. This deal puts increased pressure of them to ante-up. Time Warner wants the channel to be on basic cable tiers, so the maximum eyeballs can be on the Lakers, which also explains why the team traded for Steve Nash and Dwight Howard this off-season (non-sports fans, they are big-name players).
“Southern California sports are important to our partners at Charter, and we’re excited to work with them to bring Lakers, Galaxy and Sparks games and programming to their customers and our viewers,” said Dan Finnerty, senior vp Time Warner Cable Sports. “Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes will help bring Charter customers closer to their teams than they have ever been before.”