Lakers Secure Unprecedented 20-Year Time Warner Deal

February 16, 2011

National Basketball Association (NBA) reigning champions, denture the Los Angeles Lakers have signed a wide-ranging 20-year broadcast distribution deal with Time Warner Cable.

The agreement, order touted to be unprecedented in terms of length and comprehensiveness, will see Lakers games and content feature on two specially-launched regional sports networks and begin with the launch of the new services at the start of the 2012/13 NBA season.

The Lakers current major broadcast rights holders KCAL Channel 9 and major broadcast partner Fox Sports Net will both be replaced by Time Warner Cable.

No official numbers were released by either party but Tim Harris, vice president of business operations for the Lakers, was quoted by ESPN as saying: “Suffice to say, any sports team in any league in any country if they’re going to be doing a broadcast agreement, there is a component that includes a discussion of economics and economics was something that needed to make sense for the Lakers and it does.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, the Lakers’ previous deal with Fox Sports West was worth some US$30m per year in fees to the franchise. It also said that Time Warner Cable had dismissed outlandish speculation that the new deal could be worth as much as $3bn over two decades once all elements are taken into account.

A source familiar with the structure of such deals suggested that the Lakers could have secured as much as a 50 per cent share in the new channels.

Fox Sports had already admitted that it had tabled a significantly higher offer than its previous agreements with the Lakers in an attempt to renew the rights deal. Its exclusive negotiating period with the Lakers ran out, according to the LA Times, at the end of 2010.

Included in the deal are plans for English and, in a first, Spanish-language networks, which will utilise new facilities in Los Angeles and be made available to all cable distributors in an area including all of Southern California, Nevada and Hawaii.

Broadcast rights to live games, including pre-season, regular season and post-season fixtures, are included where the NBA’s network broadcast contracts allow.

Time Warner Cable chairman and chief executive Glenn Britt stated: “This long-term agreement represents a huge win for all Lakers fans, providing destination channels, more content and more platforms for the Lakers, one of the premier brands in professional sports today.

“It allows us to secure great ‘must-have’ content for our customers in an advantageous arrangement that affords us greater control over our own economic destiny for decades to come.”

Jerry Buss, majority owner of the Lakers expressed his delight, adding: “Time Warner 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.”

The Lakers recently lost its position as the most valuable franchise in the NBA to the New York Knicks after being valued, by Forbes, at US$643 million, a figure that the company now estimate will rise to over $1bn.