Time Warner Cable cuts first major Lakers deal

LOS ANGELES -- Time Warner Cable Inc. says it has reached its first major agreements to receive payment for carriage of two new channels carrying Lakers basketball games.

The company said Friday it had signed up Charter Communications Inc., which has around 290,000 subscribers in the Los Angeles area. Time Warner Cable also said it had agreed to terms with Verizon Communications Inc., whose subscriber numbers in the region were not immediately clear.

The first regular-season game to be carried on the channels is Wednesday night at Portland. The Lakers' season opener is at home against the Mavericks on Tuesday in a game to be broadcast on TNT.

Time Warner Cable bought the regional TV rights to Lakers games last year for an estimated $3 billion over 20 years, in a deal that also included games of pro soccer's LA Galaxy and the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks. It must sign deals with other TV distributors to help offset costs.

Earlier this month, Time Warner signed up partner Bright House Networks, which only has a few thousand subscribers in Bakersfield.

Time Warner Cable has about 1.7 million customers in the region, but there are more than 2 million other pay TV subscribers, including customers of DirecTV and Dish Network Corp., who might lose access to games if their providers don't reach a deal to carry the channels.

There are also nearly 700,000 TV households in the area that get their signals for free via antenna that will lose access to the Lakers' away games this year unless they opt to pay for TV. Lakers away games used to be broadcast over the airwaves for free by KCAL, a CBS Corp. TV station.