The Lakers are on the move.
Not out of Staples Center, but moving on your television dial. Well, if your television still had a dial. (And if it does, it is seriously time to upgrade.)
Time Warner Cable will launch a two new regional sports cable channels in the Los Angeles area in 2012 with the Lakers as part of the package, the team and company announced jointly Monday.
The Lakers will be the cornerstones of those stations for 20 years starting with the 2012-13 season. But this move really opens up the door for other LA sports teams to start making big money.
"The Buss family is thrilled to join forces with Time Warner Cable in building the TV home for Lakers fans," Lakers owner Jerry Buss said in a statement. "Time Warner Cable has been producing quality sports programming for over a decade and the Lakers have been producing championship seasons for even longer. I am particularly proud of being part of the first ever Spanish-language RSN in the country. Together I'm confident we will delight our fans."
Of the two stations, one is a Spanish-only regional sports station, the first of its kind in the nation. We're not talking SAS of another broadcast, we're talking a full Spanish station with its own programming. It's a smart move, with a large Hispanic presence in Los Angeles the market is there.
We don't know what the Lakers are getting paid (yet), but for the Lakers to jump ship from Fox Sports where they have been for two decades you know this has to be very, very lucrative. Their contract was up with Fox Sports and KCAL 9 at the end of the season after the current one. After that all games home and away will move to the new network.
The new Time Warner stations will be available to other carries in the Los Angeles region, such as Charter Cable, Verizon FIOS, DirecTV, etc. You won't need to subscribe to Time Warner to get them.
These new networks and Time Warner jumping back in the sports game will change the sports viewing landscape in Southern California.
Currently the two Fox Sports stations -- Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket -- are the only game in town. They have the Clippers, Dodgers, Angels, Ducks, Kings, USC and UCLA (and Pac-10) packages.
Now, every time one of their television deals comes up, they can listen to competing offers. Those teams and schools now have leverage. Both the Fox and Time Warner networks will need multiple teams to fill in a lot of air time, so you can bet Time Warner will go after one of the baseball franchises and more.
But landing the Lakers is the biggest coup by Time Warner.
The Lakers are the big dog in Los Angeles. With the absence of an NFL team in Los Angeles for nearly two decades, the Lakers have grown into the dominant sport franchise in the city. By far. Key to this deal -- they draw the best ratings. Just having them on board makes the Time Warner venture more than instantly credible, it makes it an instant powerhouse in the market.
And because of the Lakers history of success through multiple generations, even an NFL team would have trouble unseating them. The Lakers are the show in Los Angeles, and people will follow wherever they move.