Time Warner Cable put out a statement Wednesday night insisting that its new start-up regional sports networks are a great value. Besides, the channels have TV rights to the Lakers — which the company committed $3 billion to acquire, and which in Los Angeles is sort of like peddling "Breaking Bad's" blue stuff to a bunch of meth heads.
Still, I'm sort of hoping the other program providers currently wrestling with TWC hold the line, if only to bring about some semblance of rationality to the lunacy that is the ever-escalating cost of sports rights.
Now, while Time Warner Cable would like you to think everybody in Southern California couldn't possibly live without the Lakers, I can think of a few folks — like, say, my mother — who can, and who also would feel the pain if asked to pay another $4 a month for the privilege. Of course, distributors don't have to pass the full freight along to their customers, but even if it's just a part of the per-subscriber fee, it means a lot of people who couldn't give a rat's ass about how Dwight Howard looks in a Lakers uniform will also be footing the bill.
OK, so other people gouge subscribers. I suppose if DirecTV jumped off the Empire State Building, Time Warner Cable would too?
In its statement, Time Warner Cable said:
With the Los Angeles Lakers, LA Galaxy and Los Angeles Sparks, two
networks and unprecedented behind-the-scenes programming, Time Warner
Cable SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes are delivering
tremendous value for Southern California sports fans. Any assertion
that we are the highest priced regional sports outlet in the country is
simply untrue; as a significant buyer of regional sports across the
country, we know that there are higher priced regional
sports networks, including Root Sports that we buy from DirecTV. Cox
and DirecTV know that there is no regional sports network anywhere in
the country that is offered on an optional tier — that would be
unprecedented. If Cox or DirecTV choose not to carry
our networks, we and their customers will be very disappointed but we
are confident there will be other alternatives for their customers to
see this highly-anticipated Lakers season.
Except I'm a sports fan, and couldn't care less about the Galaxy or Sparks. So for someone like me, the extra cost amounts to the opportunity to catch a couple of additional Lakers games a month, period. Yippee.
TWC is relying on myopic bozos — including sportswriters like Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke, who called the fee "industry-reasonable" — to carry their water, along with irate Lakers fans. But at some point, the owners who have priced ordinary families out of attending games with soaring ticket prices — and then had the gall to turn around and demand stratospheric increases in TV rights deals to boot — are going to choke on their own greed.
With all due respect to Time Warner Cable and the Lakers, now would be as good a time as any.