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Fox Sports West 2 pacts with cabler trio

Finally starting to make progress with skeptical Southern California cable operators in its efforts at distribution, the regional sportsnet Fox Sports West 2 more than doubled its penetration virtually overnight by striking carriage deals with TCI Cablevision, Charter Communications and Jones Intercable.

However, two of the three cablers won’t be launching FSW2 immediately, committing only to pick it up “on or prior to July 1.” TCI will add some 360,000 subscribers and Charter another 225,000 or so to the FSW2 total. The third, Jones Intercable (with 68,000 homes), launched the network on May 1.

The date of Charter’s launch of Fox Sports West 2 depends on the close of the sale of CVI to Charter.

TCI, the nation’s largest MSO, has homes spread throughout Southern California, from Los Angeles to San Bernardino to Camarillo. Charter’s subs are primarily in Alhambra, Riverside and Long Beach.

The deals bring FSW2’s distribution to nearly 1.1 million homes including the network’s 140,000 Southern California subs via satcaster DirecTV. The service had fewer than 400,000 cable homes before the three agreements, which add more than 650,000 homes to its total.

Both TCI and Charter represent key operator breakthroughs for FSW2, which has fought the perception that it was shaking them down by asking cablers to pay per-subscriber fees for a second channel that included two teams (the Mighty Ducks and Clippers) previously carried on Fox Sports West.

The prime attraction of the channel, however, has been its telecast of 40 Dodgers home games. FSW2 is the exclusive cable outlet for the team.

More deals to come

While resistance has been severe, Fox Sports West 2 spokesman Steve Webster said Tuesday, the network anticipates a few more operator agreements this week and “two to three more” next week.

“We hope to be over 2 million subscribers within the two weeks,” Webster added.

Such majors as Cox, Time Warner and Falcon are reported to be among those close to agreements to carry the network. However, the two largest operators in the area — Century and Continental — both continue to hold out and are not expected to cut a deal with FSW2 anytime soon.

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