Time Warner Cable and the Los Angeles Lakers are throwing a red-carpet party Monday evening, and so far the invitation list is pretty exclusive.
And that has caught the attention — and ire — of Lakers fans across the Coachella Valley who are wondering whether or not they will be able to enjoy a network dedicated to Kobe Bryant and new teammates Steve Nash and Dwight Howard this season.
Time Warner Cable SportsNet, otherwise known as the new Lakers network, launches at 7 p.m. Monday, and unless you are a Time Warner Cable subscriber you could be out of luck for the debut.
The new network and its first-of-its-kind Spanish counterpart Time Warner Cable Deportes have been unable to reach deals with cable providers DirecTV, Dish Network and Verizon FiOS that also serve the desert.
All parties are talking, so deals are expected. But whether those agreements occur before the Lakers’ first preseason game Oct. 7 or before Time Warner Cable SportsNet broadcasts its first Lakers’ regular-season game Oct. 31 is anyone’s guess.
The new networks will televise 70 of the Lakers’ 82 games this season. Lakers games no longer will be available on FSN West or KCAL.
“The Lakers are important to L.A. fans who can rest assured DirecTV is very engaged with Time Warner Cable on how best to make the new TWC SportsNet available in all our local customers’ homes,” said DirecTV spokesperson Robert Mercer. “Time Warner Cable and DirecTV are the two largest TV providers serving Los Angeles, and as such both share a responsibility to ensure that both sports fans and non-sports fans alike avoid any extraordinary increases to their families’ monthly bills.
“We plan to carry TWC SportsNet in a way that is affordable for everyone,” Mercer said.
Time Warner Cable is reportedly charging $3.95 per subscriber per month to pick up the new networks.
Dish Network, which recently joined Time Warner Cable as the only cable providers in the desert to offer the Pac-12 Network, offered a similar update.
“Dish is currently talking with Time Warner Cable SportsNet, but we will only be able to come to an agreement if the programming is offered at a good value for our customers,” Dish spokesperson John Hall said.
Time Warner Cable usually finds itself embroiled in carriage disputes from the other side, but now is in the business of running its own sports networks.
At the same time, in the last six weeks, Time Warner Cable has become the destination for Southern California sports fans. The TV provider aired the Pac-12 Networks from launch in mid-August, and following a bitter nine-year dispute added the NFL Network and RedZone channels to its lineup Sept. 21. Now the area’s favorite pro franchise is set to launch on a new network tonight.
Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes will be the exclusive homes of the Los Angeles Lakers, L.A. Galaxy and L.A. Sparks games, as well as CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) high school regular season and playoff contests.
When Time Warner Cable SportsNet flips the switch at 7 p.m. Monday, a two-hour live special edition of the network’s signature show “Access SportsNet” will be broadcast, feauring Bryant, Howard and Nash as well as Galaxy superstar David Beckham as in-studio guests.
The premiere of “Backstage: Lakers,” the network’s weekly behind-the-scenes documentary show, follows at 9 p.m. “Backstage: Lakers” will take fans from the end of the 2011-12 season in Oklahoma City to the start of 2012-13 training camp.
Time Warner Cable Deportes will launch at 7 p.m. with a two-hour “Bienvenidos a Time Warner Cable Deportes” live special that features Beckham, Bryant and Nash as in-studio guests, plus Laker Pau Gasol and Galaxy midfielder Landon Donovan.
Next on the network will be “Somos Lakers, La Biografía” at 9 p.m. and “Los 16 del Galaxy” at 9:30 p.m., which profile the histories of the two teams. “Encuentro Deportivo” will premiere at 10 p.m. and the half-hour live, nightly show will update viewers on the day’s sports activity in Southern California as well as internationally.
On Lakers game nights, a 90-minute preview show is planned, with an hour-long wrapup show after the game.
Other Lakers programming includes classic games; enhanced replays of this season’s games and “Lakers Compacto,” in which games are replayed in a condensed, one-hour format.
“Laker Girls” will be a five-part miniseries that spotlights the selection process and starts at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Deportes will be available on HD channels 403 and 481, respectively, on Time Warner Cable. The standard definition channels are 28 and 35.