Time Warner Cable won't divulge what it is seeking for the two channels, but people familiar with the situation said the price tag is as much as $3.95 per subscriber per month for both channels depending on what part of Southern California a distributor serves. That's more than what Fox Sports West, which previously had the Lakers, charged. It is also more than Prime Ticket charges. Those channels have far more sports — Dodgers, Angels, Clippers, Kings and Ducks — than SportsNet and Deportes.
"We understand that the Lakers are popular sports programming, but that programming comes at an extremely high price," a Cox spokesman said. "Our goal is to provide Cox customers with the best TV experience at the most reasonable price."
Spokespeople for DirecTV, Dish and Charter offered similar comments.
Shuken isn't sweating yet. Negotiations between distributors and program suppliers typically heat up only when a deadline is approaching. The channels go live Monday, but the first regular-season Lakers game on the channels isn't until Oct. 31.
"We assume there will be some conversations into October. That's natural," Shuken said.
And sports fans and pay-TV subscribers will be caught in the middle.
"It's going to be a very high-profile public negotiation, and at the end of the day we'll be in our cars listening to radio ads with each side calling the other evil personified," predicted David Carter, executive director of USC's Sports Business Institute. "Ultimately it will cost more to the consumers."