Entertainment Industry

Category: Fox Sports West

The Morning Fix. Senior TV. 'Underworld' untouchable! Fox goes Spanish.

After the coffee. Before prepping for two weeks of non-stop Super Bowl hype.

The Skinny: Monday's headlines include News Corp.'s plans to launch a Spanish network in the U.S., a look at the weekend box office, a story about RLTV, a cable channel aimed at people over the age of 50 and a piece from Advertising Age about how ABC's "Modern Family" balances content vs. commerce when it comes to product placement. 


The Giants and Patriots could mean big ratings for next month's 2012 Super Bowl

The Daily Dose: With the New York Giants set to battle the New England Patriots in almost two weeks, NBC couldn't have asked for an easier Super Bowl to promote. Not only did the contenders play in a nail-biter during the regular season, they squared off in perhaps the most memorable Super Bowl ever four years ago when the Giants topped the then undefeated Patriots in a stunning upset. Last year's Super Bowl drew a record 111 million viewers: Don't be surprised if this year's tops that mark. 


Senior moment. RLTV, a cable channel founded by John Erickson, who made his fortune building retirement communities, hopes to convince Hollywood and Madison Avenue that the over-50 audience is worth reaching. The network, currently in 15 million homes, hopes to double its reach in the next 12 months and has attracted some familiar faces to go in front of the camera including Joan Lunden, Deborah Norville and Florence Henderson. But persuading big cable operators and advertisers to support the channel is no easy sell. A look at RLTV from the Los Angeles Times.

Caliente! News Corp. announced early Monday that it is teaming up with Colombian broadcaster RCN to launch Mundo Fox, a Spanish broadcast network in the U.S. that will compete against Univision and Telemundo. The announcement, made at the National Assn. of Television Program Executives conference in Miami, said the channel should debut this fall. Details on the new channel from the News Corp.-owned Wall Street Journal, which broke the story.

Unbeatable. Sony's "Underworld: Awakening," the fourth installment of a franchise I was unaware of until three days ago, finished at the top of the box office with $25.4 million. "Red Tails," a historical film about the Tuskeegee Airmen, delivered a stronger-than-expected $19.1 million. "Haywire," which I thought would do better, took in only $9 million. Coverage from the Los Angeles Times and Movie City News.

Man behind the moustache. With the last name Murdoch a little bit tarnished, News Corp. President and Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey, known for his handlebar moustache and his no-nonsense approach to deals, has risen even higher in stature at the Rupert Murdoch-controlled media empire. The New York Times looks at Carey. The Los Angeles Times last year profiled Carey and his "everyone pays" revenue strategy.

A fine line between clever and silly. ABC's "Modern Family" is on the top of every advertiser's list when it comes to product placement. But the show's producers are very selective about the companies they do business with and how products are incorporated into the show. The fear is being seen as a shill, a perception currently plaguing CBS's "Hawaii Five-O," which took heat last week for an over-the-top placement for the Subway sandwich chain. Advertising Age examines what it takes to make the cut and get your product in the hands of the cast of "Modern Family."

Report card. Steve Burke is wrapping up his first year as chief executive of Comcast's NBCUniversal. The New York Post gives him a report card that pretty much reads incomplete and questions whether Universal Studios stays in the portfolio. My question: Where would it go?

Inside the Los Angeles Times: A look at the unappreciated work of Hollywood makeup artists.

-- Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter. You'll join an elite club. Twitter.com/JBFlint

Photo: The Giants and Patriots battling in the 2008 Super Bowl. Credit: Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

Fox speaks out about Time Warner Cable and Dodgers


You can tell a fight is getting ugly when the companies involved stop hiding behind anonymous quotes and come right out and say what's on their minds -- on the record.

That's what is starting to happen with Fox Sports and Time Warner Cable in their battle to see who will end up with the television rights for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Fox's Prime Ticket currently has the Dodgers, and Time Warner Cable wants them for its new regional sports network, which is launching next year.

Under scrutiny is a 2004 contract Fox Sports signed with the Dodgers to carry the baseball team's games on its Prime Ticket cable channel. The contract contains a provision that prohibits the team from creating its own channel in partnership with Time Warner, Comcast or Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN should it decide to discontinue its relationship with Fox Sports when the current pact expires.

The deal under the current contract, which runs to 2013, will peak at a value of nearly $40 million a year. A new deal could double that annual figure.

At the time the contract was signed, Time Warner Cable was still part of the entertainment giant Time Warner Inc. In 2009, it was spun off into a stand-alone company and does not feel that the 2004 provision applies to it and its regional sports network (RSN).

Fox, part of News Corp., begs to differ and is now speaking publicly about it.

“The contract, which was written in 2004, states the Dodgers are restricted in partnering with 'Time Warner' in an RSN and both sides have always, up to today, acted consistently with the understanding of the meaning that Time Warner Cable is restricted from making a media rights deal with the Dodgers," Fox Sports spokesman Chris Bellitti said.

The subject of the contract came up in a hearing Thursday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, where Fox lost a fight to stop the Dodgers from selling a new TV deal along with the team. A Dodger lawyer suggested that the team was able to strike a deal with anyone it pleased, which Fox is still disputing.

"For their lawyer to indicate otherwise is revisionist history designed to mislead prospective buyers into thinking the Dodgers are unfettered in making a media rights deal with whomever they choose,” Bellitti said.

While Fox is charging the mound, Time Warner Cable is still staying in the dugout. For now.


Dodgers can hold early sale of TV rights

Contract provision is key in fight between Time Warner Cable, Dodgers and Fox Sports

-- Joe Flint

Photo: The Dodgers' Matt Kemp hits one out. Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

Lakers jilt Fox Sports and KCAL for Time Warner Cable


Time Warner Cable has struck a massive deal with the Los Angeles Lakers to create two regional sports channels that will use the world champs as their backbone.

There had been rumblings recently that the Lakers were looking to either start their own channel or find a new partner. The 20-year agreement between the cable giant and the National Basketball Association powerhouse is a major blow to Fox Sports West and KCAL-TV, the two current rights holders for the Lakers. Starting with the 2012-13 season, all Lakers games except for national telecasts will be available on cable only. That includes preseason, regular season and playoff games.

One of the two as-yet unnamed cable channels will be Spanish-language network that will have its own prodcution team instead of just being a feed of the English-language channel.

The loss of games to KCAL means that no Lakers games will be available on free over-the-air television. KCAL, which is owned by CBS Corp., currently carries 41 games. Of the 5.67-million TV homes in the Los Angeles market, about 620,000 do not subscribe to any pay-TV provider. 

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Under its current deal with Fox Sports West, the Lakers were getting about $30 million a year in rights fees, people familiar with the situation said. Some industry observers pegged the 20-year pact at a value of $3 billion, a figure dismissed by Time Warner Cable.

In a statement, Fox Sports said it had made the Lakers an offer that “would have paid them one of the highest local TV rights fees in professional sports.  We did not believe that going higher was in the best interest of our business or pay TV customers in Los Angeles, who will bear the cost of this deal for years to come.”

Time Warner Cable, which has about 2 million subscribers in Southern California, isn't looking to stop with the Lakers. In an interview, Melinda Witmer, executive vice president and chief programming officer of Time Warner Cable, said the company would be "looking at all available sports in the marketplace."

Next on their list could be the Dodgers. The team's current pact with Fox's Prime Ticket channel expires in 2013. The Angels also have a contract with Fox Sports West, but that arrangement has many years to run.

For Time Warner Cable, snagging the rights to the Lakers and creating two channels is a shift in strategy. While many cable operators including Comcast, Cox and Cablevision are major players in the regional sports channel business, Time Warner Cable has pretty much stuck to the sidelines.

However, Time Warner Cable's Witmer said the move to get into business with the Lakers is part of its overall desire to "control our economic destiny."

Consumers may feel some pain as a result of the deal. Regional Sports Networks (RSNs) are generally some of the most expensive programming for distributors. Typically, RSNs cost between north of $2.50 per month, per subscriber. Given the high cost of the Lakers, Time Warner Cable will likely be looking for north of $3.50.

The cable giant will need to strike carriage deals with other distributors in the region and may face tough negotiations. First stop will be DirecTV, which has about 1 million subscribers in the area. Other major distributors include Charter Communications and Cox Cable. That will likely lead to tough negotations.

At the same time, Fox Sports West will likely get pressure from Time Warner Cable and other distributors to lower the price of its channel now that will be losing the Lakers.

— Joe Flint

Photo: Kobe Bryant takes it to the hoop. Credit: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times / MCT.





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