Time Warner Cable is looking for other sports rights to add to its two new Southern California regional sports networks that are launching October 1 — and that now includes the lucrative local TV rights to the Los Angeles Dodgers. “We are hopeful that we will have an opportunity to speak with the new ownership,” TWC Sports president David Rone told Sports Business Daily. “Those are conversations we are interested in having and prepared to have.” It’s not a surprise that the new networks, Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Spanish-language Time Warner Cable Deportes, would seek to bid on those rights, but it marks one of the first open acknowledgments that they are ready to compete with current rightsholder Fox Sports for a long-term Dodgers deal that could be worth $3 billion or more. (The Dodgers were purchased in March for $2.15 billion, a record price for a U.S. sports franchise. Much of the team’s value is wrapped up in the next TV rights deal.) The RSNs showed that they will be a major player in the nation’s second-largest media market, plopping down serious cash in a 20-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers. But now the networks need other content, and Rone said in the interview that they are seeking out other deals, including college sports rights.
Sports Business Daily also reported that Time Warner Cable’s new networks are asking cable systems to pony up $3.95 per subscriber for the networks in the Los Angeles market, with outlying areas paying $1.25 per sub. That’s typically high for sports programming — ESPN commands over $5 per sub. Rone declined comment on the figures but said cablers are getting two networks for the price. “These services are singular services,” he said.