Charter, FiOS Suit Up For Lakers Sports Nets

Charter Communications and Verizon Communication's FiOS TV service have agreed to carry Time Warner Cable’s sometimes controversial regional sports networks in Southern California, just in time for the start of the National Basketball Association season.

The networks – Time Warner Cable Sports Net and the Spanish-language Time Warner Cable Desportes – have come under some criticism from other MSOs because of the cost, estimated to be in the $3.95 per subscriber  per month range making them among the costliest RSNs in the nation. Earlier this week, Cox Communications, which has about 1.2 million customer in Southern California and DirecTV, which counts some 1.7 million customers in the area, said their offer to put the channels on a sports tier were rejected by TWC.

In a statement, Cox seemed to hint that it too would strike a deal soon.

"Talks between our content acquisition team and SportsNet are active and ongoing, and we believe we are on target to have a deal before the start of the season," Cox spokesman Todd Smith said in a statement. "As we do with all of our negotiations, our team remains laser focused on securing a deal that does not burden all of our customers with excessive price increases and protects the value of the products and services we provide."

Representatives from DirecTV did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a statement, TWC said that it is "in active conversations with all TV providers in Southern California."

Shortly after the Charter announcement, the MSO said it has come to terms with Verizon Communicatons' FiOs for the RSN and that details of that arrangement will be revealed in the coming days.

Time Warner Cable launched the two RSNs on its own systems in Southern California on Oct. 1,  more than a year after it signed a 20-year,  $3 billion deal with the NBA Los Angeles Lakers to air their games in February 2011. The MSO later secured rights to air contests from Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy and the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks.

Charter has about 360,000 customers in the Los Angeles area. TWC earlier reached a distribution deal with Bright House Networks in Bakersfield, Calif., for the channels. In a statement, Charter said it is making technical preparations  and is targeting the launch of the RSNs on or before Oct. 31, the date of the first regular season Lakers telecast on the new networks.

“Charter is committed to bring programming to our customers that mirror their interests,” said senior vice president of programming Allan Singer in a statement. “We are proud of Charter’s robust selection of sports programming. Charter is the first provider of this brand new programming in our service areas, and we know that the addition of these networks especially pleases our customers in Southern California.”

 Time Warner Cable SportsNet will be available in standard definition on channel 215 and in HD on channel 787; and Time Warner Cable Deportes will be available on SD channel 216 and HD channel 788. Charter customers can call 1-855-85-SWITCH (1-855-857-9482) for more information.

 “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 Time Warner Cable Sports senior vice president Dan Finnerty in a statement. “Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes will help bring Charter customers closer to their teams than they have ever been before.”

In addition to live games, programming on Time Warner Cable SportsNet includes “Access SportsNet,” the network’s signature daily studio show that encompasses pre-and post-game shows as “Access SportsNet: Lakers” and “Access SportsNet: Galaxy” as well as “#LakeShow,” the network’s live daily social media-driven show. Original programming on Time Warner Cable SportsNet includes “Backstage: Lakers” (titled “Lakers Confidencial” on Time Warner Cable Deportes), a weekly documentary that chronicles the Lakers season from start to finish, and “Laker Girls” (also titled “Laker Girls” on Time Warner Cable Deportes), a five-part reality series that profiles the making of the 2012-13 squad and its members. “Connected With…” is the network’s signature interview show that features interviews with professional athletes, sports insiders and Southern California personalities.

On Time Warner Cable Deportes, programming includes the “Lakers En Vivo” pre-game show and “Somos Lakers” post-game show, as well as “Somos Lakers éné-bé-a,” a weekly show dedicated to the latest on the Lakers and the NBA that will include highlights, live interviews, commentary and other special segments. “Encuentro Deportivo” and “Tu Show del Fútbol” are daily shows on the network, with “Encuentro Deportivo” wrapping up the day in sports with a regional focus and “Tu Show del Fútbol” analyzing the day in soccer. “#LAPREPA” is a weekly show that features inspirational stories about high school sports.