Lakers Channel Agreement Reached With Charter Communications, Verizon FiOS

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LAKERS CHANNEL
Time Warner has reached agreements with Charter Communications and Verizon FiOS over the Lakers broadcasts. | AP
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Lakers fans who subscribe to Charter Communications and Verizon FiOS can relax: They'll be able to watch Kobe Bryant and Co. this season.

Time Warner Cable reached agreements Friday with the two companies to carry Time Warner SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes, home of the Lakers. They are the first two major distribution deals TWC has signed for its regional sports networks, which premiered earlier this month.

Still, many Lakers fans may remain in the dark this season -- four other cable providers in the Los Angeles-area have not yet come to agreements with TWC to broadcast the games.

Charter is planning to launch the networks by Wednesday, when the Lakers play at Portland in the second game of their NBA season. The Lakers' opener Tuesday against Dallas at Staples Center will be broadcast on TNT.

Details of the agreement between Verizon FiOS and TWC will be announced in the coming days, according to a statement from TWC.

Charter is one of the largest cable distributors in the Los Angeles market, with about 300,000 subscribers.

The TWC channels will be available on Charter in both standard definition in English and Spanish and high definition in English and Spanish.

"Charter is committed to bring programming to our customers that mirror their interests," Allan Singer, Charter's senior vice president of programming, said 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."

TWC acquired the regional rights to Lakers broadcasts last year for an estimated $3 billion over 20 years. The deal also includes telecasts of the Los Angeles Galaxy of MLS and the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA.

"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," Dan Finnerty, senior vice president of Time Warner Cable Sports, said 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."

Neither TWC nor Charter officials returned calls for additional comment Friday.

TWC has about 1.7 million customers in the L.A. market, but there are still more than 2.5 million TV households that will be unable to watch Lakers games this season unless they're broadcast on ABC, ESPN or TNT. Two games against the cross-town rival Clippers can be seen on Fox Sports Net's Prime Ticket.

AT&T, Cox, DirecTV and Dish Network still haven't come to agreements for the channels -- though all are still in talks with TWC, according to a report Friday by Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Daily.

Many local bar owners said the new deals don't help them because they carry DirectTV.

"It's been very frustrating not being able to show the Lakers," said Joao de Paula, owner of Boteco Restaurant Bar Lounge in Alhambra. "We have a great sports following so we're trying to figure out what's going to happen."

The business owner said he was told the building didn't have access to Charter cable, but now he'll be sure to check again with the company.

"Were hoping that some sort of deal happens," he said.

Staff writer Maritza Velazquez contributed to this report.

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