Time Warner Cable found an unusual way to land programming for its regional sports channel in Southern California.
College football and basketball games from San Diego State, University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and Fresno State will appear Time Warner Cable SportsNet, which launches in October and is already home to the Lakers and the Galaxy.
To get the rights, Time Warner Cable had to do a little wheeling and dealing with CBS. According to people familiar with the matter, CBS Sports Network, a cable channel that focuses primarily on college sports, agreed to swap the rights to the games in return for greater distribution on Time Warner Cable systems. As a result of the agreement, CBS Sports Network is expected to add 1 million subscribers, which would bring its national reach to almost 50 million homes.
Time Warner Cable and CBS declined to comment on the pact.
CBS has been looking to beef up its sports channel. Although it is unlikely that it will go after big-ticket items such as Major League Baseball (whose contracts with Fox and Turner Broadcasting are up after next season), it is adding more personalities such as popular radio host Jim Rome to its lineup. The channel is also used as a promotional platform for sports that air on CBS, such as the NFL, golf and college basketball.
For Time Warner Cable, the deal gives it one more selling point with distributors, which it needs.
Time Warner Cable's SportsNet, which comprises both an English- and Spanish-language channel, is yet to close distribution deals with satellite broadcasters DirecTV and Dish, both of which have a big presence in Los Angeles.
The subscription fee Time Warner Cable is seeking for the two channels is about $3.95, which would make it one of the most expensive media properties for distributors.
Interestingly, while Time Warner Cable is trying to beef up its own sports network, it still isn't carrying the NFL Network or the Fox-owned regional sports channel in San Diego.
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