Business & Economy

In broadcast battle over cash, most Lakers fans are shut out

A handout announcing Time Warner Cable Sportsnet broadcasting the Lakers 2012-2013 season
A handout announcing Time Warner Cable Sportsnet broadcasting the Lakers 2012-2013 season
Time Warner Cable

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There is less than a week to go before the NBA regular season begins and the cable war over where to watch the Los Angeles Lakers on TV is still unsettled.

Time Warner Cable is now the distributor of most Lakers games on its two new networks.

The other cable and satellite providers still have not agreed to pay what Time Warner is asking to carry the networks.

Many Lakers fans are sitting on the sidelines … in the dark… as DirecTV, Dish, Charter and other cable/satellite providers haggle over the nearly $4 per subscriber that Time Warner reportedly wants.

Cox Cable has offered to carry the Time Warner channels on an optional tier, but subscribers would have to pay extra for the two channels.

“You know, that’s what no programmer wants," said Derek Baine, an analyst with SNL Kagan, which tracks the the media and communications business.

RELATED: Time Warner defends its Lakers pricing, says it's not the most expensive

Baine said even as popular as sports network ESPN has become, studies have shown less than 20 percent of people would actually pay extra for the service. Some cable companies do offer ESPN in a premium package, so many subscribers, who chose those options, are paying a little bit more already.

Baine said these down-to-the-wire cable wars over broadcast programming have become common.

“If you look at other sports channels like NFL network, they were in negotiations for several years, right up to the last minute when football season started," said Baine.

With the Lakers regular season starting next week, October 30, the game of chicken between Time Warner Cable and the cable/satellite companies appears headed for overtime.

Time Warner customers will be able to see the Lakers games on the two new channels, Time-Warner SportsNet and Deportes.

Even without a deal, Lakers fans without Time Warner will be able to see nearly 30 games on national networks, including ESPN, ABC and TNT.