Sports news: U-verse snags the Padres; Time Warner controls the Lakers

AT&T (NYSE: T) U-verse subscribers are finally going to get to see Fox Sports San Diego--as the service provider and network reached a carriage agreement on the last day of Major League Baseball season for the hometown Padres.

Meanwhile, up the road a bit, Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) is looking for other service providers to chip in $3.95 per subscriber to help pay for a $3 billion 20-year deal it made to carry Los Angeles Lakers games on its newly launched TWC SportsNet.

San Diego observers are looking at the U-verse-FSSD deal as "better late than never," since the baseball season is over and the Padres have packed their bags and headed to their winter homes. Next year, though, U-verse will carry over 150 Padres games. Before then, the deal gives U-verse the rights to broadcasts of the Los Angeles Clippers, Anaheim Ducks and SDSU basketball.

"It is an important deal," SI.com's Chicken Friars site said. "[i]t gives North County residents an opportunity to watch Padres games without having to subscribe to a satellite provider."

The publication also held out hope that this could be "the first step in ending Fox's stalemate with Time Warner."

And speaking of Time Warner, the cable MSO invested big to carry the Lakers on its Regional Sports Network (RSN). For now, that investment--besides further enriching the Lakers themselves--has resulted in exclusivity, since DirecTV (Nasdaq: DTV), Dish Network (Nasdaq: DISH), Charter Communications (Nasdaq: CHTR), Verizon (NYSE: VZ) FiOS, U-verse and Cox Communications, all players in the market, have yet to sign on. Perhaps, it's been suggested, they're just waiting for the start of the regular season.

And at this point, a deal between the parties is no slam dunk.

DirecTV spokesman Bob Mercer told The Sun of San Bernardino and the Inland Empire that his company and TWC "share a responsibility to ensure that both sports fans and non-sports fans alike avoid any extraordinary increase to their families' monthly bills." That means DTV will "carry TWC SportsNet in a way that is affordable for everyone," he continued.

Dish Network spokesman John Hall said an agreement would only be reached "if the programming is offered at a good value for our customers." He didn't say whether $3.95 per subscriber per month is a good value.

Of course, there is another option for avid Lakers fans; join the Time Warner bandwagon. There's a site, IWantMyLakers.com, off the Lakers' home Web page that offers a $200 Visa reward card for switching to TWC.

The Lakers themselves are not immune to criticism that they've taken the TWC money and run from their fan base.

"As an organization, we spent many months considering our options and carefully weighing every implication knowing that change is difficult for everyone, including our fans," said Jeanie Buss, executive vice president of business operations for the Lakers and herself a DirecTV subscriber. "Ultimately, we wanted to be on one home and have the ability to deliver more in-depth Lakers content to our fans besides just the pregame, postgame and the actual game."

Putting the team in a situation where its games are--at least for now--the exclusive property of one service provider "wasn't an impulsive decision nor one taken lightly," she said.

For more:
- read about the Padres and U-verse here
- see the Lakers and Time Warner Cable article here

Related articles:
TWC appears to be good sport when it comes to sharing with Google in Kansas City
Local sports programming a big factor for video providers
Sportsmanship a problem as Google Fiber prepares its video lineup

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