TWC further sweetens SportsNet LA deal, offers new 6-year terms

After rival operators rebuffed its offer of a one-year, 30-percent discount on its carriage-starved regional sports network, SportsNet LA, Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) has offered a revised six-year deal that more gradually raises the price of the channel, according to the Los Angeles Times.

DirecTV (NYSE: T), the No. 2 operator in the Southern California region, has yet to take TWC up on the offer. Reps for DirecTV didn't immediately respond to FierceCable's inquiry for comment. However, TWC's Andrew Fegyveresi told us, "We aren't commenting on specifics/details of the offer, just confirming that we extended another offer to AT&T/DirecTV that is longer than one year that was in the news last week."

Cox Communications, which has a niche market share in the region, told FierceCable, "We continue to seek a flexible, long term carriage agreement that doesn't unnecessarily burden our entire customer base. We must consider the needs of baseball fans and non-sports enthusiasts alike. People shouldn't be forced to buy overpriced tickets to games they have no interest in attending."

Last week, TWC tried to end a carriage impasse for the channel, which is built on a 25-year, $8.35 billion rights deal with baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers. With the Major League Baseball season set to kick off April 4, TWC lowered the per-subscriber cost of the channel to around $3.50.

However, DirecTV, Cox Communications and other pay-TV operators in the region balked, citing the fact that the price would spike significantly in the second year of the deal. 

TWC's new deal more gradually delivers the price escalation over six years, the LA Times report said. 

TWC is entering its third season of covering the Dodgers, but is only carried in about 40 percent of the Los Angeles region's 1.8 million pay-TV homes. 

The impasse has been closely watched by TV business pundits. Together with Comcast's refusal to carry Yankees channel the Yes Network in the Northeast, a consensus has emerged that sports programming has reached a price point that is no longer sustainable for the pay-TV ecosystem.

Notable, however, is the fact that both stalemates revolve around baseball, which may be a growing indicator of dissonance emerging for the National Pastime than a sea change in demand for televised sports. 

For more:
- read this Los Angeles Times story
- read this TV Predictions story

Related articles:
With SportsNet LA and Yes Network pay-TV impasses, sports TV is in 'crisis mode,' analyst says
DirecTV, Cox cool on TWC's 30% SportsNet LA discount
TWC cuts SportsNet LA price by 30%, hopes to end 2-year-old carriage stalemate

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