Lakers helping Time Warner Cable drive Cox, DirecTV to SportsNet deal

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The Los Angeles Lakers are helping Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) push DirecTV (Nasdaq: DTV) and Cox Communications into signing a carriage deal for the MSO's new Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes regional sports networks.

"Unfortunately, as we tip off tonight against the Portland Trail Blazers, DirecTV and Cox have elected not to carry the new networks. We are disappointed but thrilled that, through our new partners at AT&T (NYSE: T), Bright House Networks, Charter, Time Warner Cable and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) FiOS, their consumers and our fans will have choices to follow us on and off the court," the NBA team wrote in a letter posted on its website Wednesday night. Dish Network (Nasdaq: DISH) also hasn't agreed to carry SportsNet and Deportes, but the satellite TV provider wasn't mentioned in the letter from the Lakers.

It's not surprising that the Lakers would help Time Warner Cable strike distribution deals for its new regional sports networks. Last year, the team agreed a $3 billion, 20-year deal to sell its cable TV rights to Time Warner Cable. Lakers games are the most valuable programming on SportsNet and Deportes. The regional sports networks will also feature WNBA, pro soccer and college sports contests.

Time Warner Cable announced late last week that it had stuck carriage deals with Charter, AT&T and Verizon. Cox has said that it would like to distribute SportsNet and Deportes on a sports tier.

For more:
- see the Lakers letter

Commentary: SportsNet, MSG disputes highlight Time Warner Cable's evolving views on sports tiers

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