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Clippers reach exclusive TV deal with Prime Ticket

Agreement will run through 2015-16 season and all games will be shown in HD. Ralph Lawler and Mike Smith will stay as the broadcast team. The team will end its run with over-the-air KTLA.

August 28, 2009|DIANE PUCIN | ON SPORTS MEDIA

No easy jokes here. The Clippers have a new, long-term, exclusive television contract with Fox Sports Prime Ticket and that deserves congratulations. It's a win for a team with a history of losing.

In this financial climate, the Clippers have cause for celebration for negotiating an agreement that gives the team a solid and predictable broadcast home.

The deal is set to last seven years, according to three sources, none of whom were authorized to speak publicly. The sources also said the deal is worth substantially more than the $12.5 million a year in revenue the Clippers had received in their previous arrangement with over-the-air KTLA and Fox Sports.

No one was happier with Thursday's news than Ralph Lawler, the veteran Clippers broadcaster.

"I can't tell you how pleased I am to have all of our games on one carrier," he said. "I've been frustrated for years because it's been so easy for Lakers fans. If it's a road game they're on Channel 9, home game, Fox [Sports West]. We haven't had that advantage ever."

While Clippers games are now lost to anyone who doesn't receive cable television, as Lawler said, the upside is greater. "When people have 100, 200, 300 channels they aren't as apt to look around if they can't find us," he said. "Now they can find us."

"It's a very good deal for us," Clippers President Andy Roeser said. "Fox is our exclusive television partner now. We enjoyed a good relationship with KTLA but in terms of having a stable situation with a great partner, this is great."

Last week the Clippers announced a new radio deal with KFWB-AM (980).

Steve Simpson, senior vice president and general manager of Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket, said, "We've enjoyed a 14-year partnership with the Clippers. In our minds it made sense for both sides. When you have one partner, it makes things easier to accomplish and now, being exclusive, it creates that much stronger a partnership in the market. Any chance you have to sign a long-term agreement with an NBA franchise, it makes sense."

All games will be broadcast in high definition and there will be a pregame and postgame studio show after all home telecasts.

It is also worth noting that the NBA's national television deals with ABC/ESPN and TNT expire after the 2015-2016 season.

Tennis, tennis, tennis

Is it possible for a sport to have too many good broadcasters?

We may find out during the next two weeks of U.S. Open coverage, because Jimmy Connors is joining the Tennis Channel team that already included Martina Navratilova, whose no-nonsense opinions are worth hearing.

Add to that such knowledgeable voices as Mary Carillo, John McEnroe, Patrick McEnroe, Darren Cahill and Cliff Drysdale, just for starters, and the sport seems blessed with more on-air knowledge and personality than all the on-court tennis talent, no insult meant to Roger Federer.

As a player, Connors never kept his emotions hidden. Through his words and gestures (not always family-friendly), Connors let fans feel his fight. Now he'll be talking about the game, and Connors doesn't plan to change his attitude.

"Tennis Channel is giving me freedom," Connors said. "I'll have a bit of a point of view. There's so much coverage now it's making it possible to see so much of the sport live. When you're supplying tennis nonstop, you need someone to be a little outspoken."

Connors always bonded with the rowdy New York crowds that appreciated his rowdy playing style.

"Over 20 years," Connors said, "I guess the idea was that I always gave everything I had. Whatever happened, happened. As I look back, there's never been a time I didn't enjoy the U.S. Open."

The Open begins Monday. The Tennis Channel, ESPN2 and CBS will offer coverage almost all day every day. During the first week, Tennis Channel will have coverage beginning at 8 a.m. PDT and ESPN2 will begin at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. (with the night matches). CBS joins in beginning Sept. 5.

Good today

High school football is on ESPN at 4 p.m., New Hartford (Iowa) vs. Aplington Parkersburg (Iowa). The game is noteworthy because last June a former Aplington Parkersburg player allegedly shot and killed football coach Ed Thomas in the weight room. Football of the NFL variety is on Channel 2 at 5 p.m. with New England at Washington.

Good on Saturday

Nervous Dodgers fans who get the MLB Network can see Colorado at San Francisco at 6 p.m. The Little League World Series international championship game is on Channel 7 at 9 a.m. with the U.S. championship game following at noon.

Good on Sunday

Check out American League contenders at 10 a.m. when TBS shows the White Sox at the Yankees. Universal Sports has coverage of the third major cycling race of the year, the Spanish Vuelta, at 11 a.m.

--

diane.pucin@latimes.com

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