Cable drains public Lakers

Cheryl Giraud

Sports fans with rabbit ears on top of your TV sets, listen very closely.  You may be able to hear Time Warner’s proverbial fat pockets bursting at the seams.

The second largest cable provider in the U.S., Time Warner and the Los Angeles Lakers announced Monday, Feb. 14 they are entering into a 20-year programming agreement.

The deal, hailed on the NBA website as “better programming content for Lakers fans,” is a real slap in the face to the die-hard fans without cable or satellite service.

Worth an estimated $3 billion, the deal will create two HD regional sports networks, one in English and the other in Spanish, and will include preseason, regular season and postseason Lakers games.

Programming also extended to satellite providers is slated to begin in the 2012-2013 season when the current 35-year-old contract with KCAL Channel 9 expires, as well as the contract with Fox Sports West.

What does all of this mean? It means those homes without cable or satellite service will no longer be able to watch a Lakers game in the comfort of their own living room on their favorite local broadcast television station.

The good news for the lucky Lakers fans without cable television is they can sit back in their Lazy-Boy recliner with a can of suds on just a few Sunday afternoons during Lakers season and enjoy games that are broadcast nationally.

But the current 600,000 ardent fans in Los Angeles who can’t afford subscription television service.

And for those current pay-television subscribers, be prepared to cough up additional monthly fees if they want to watch the home-town boys shoot some baskets.

The Lakers brand is fueled by its fan base. In the name of greed, this deal is a betrayal to the loyal fans who cheer on the purple and yellow men through both victories and losses for so many years.

This egregious deal between the virulent cable company and the Laker Land franchise is clearly a lucrative deal for those on and off the court, but a blatant shut-out for those Lakers-lovers without cable or satellite service.

Maybe it’s time to pay more attention to the Los Angeles Clippers.