Preseason contests hit the airwaves this week but Lakers games are only available on TWC SportsNet and TWC Deportes, which Time Warner Cable broadcasts in the Los Angeles area. The cable service isn't available in Long Beach.
How long this lasts is unclear.
As of Friday afternoon, Time Warner Cable Sports was still discussing broadcast rights with other program providers, but there was no indication if a deal might be reached in time for today's exhibition against the Utah Jazz.
"Negotiations with TV providers to carry Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes are ongoing," Time Warner Cable Sports said in a statement.
"There is a significant demand from Lakers fans for these two networks and we are working very hard to reach agreements with all TV providers in Southern California so that fans can watch the games they love."
Those talks include DirecTV, Dish Network, AT&T U-verse, Verizon Fios, Comcast, Charter Communications and Cox Cable. Bright House Networks in Bakersfield has also picked up the SportsNet package.
The deal between Time Warner and the Lakers was struck about a year ago.
DirecTV and Time Warner Cable are the two biggest pay television providers in Los Angeles.
"We understand how important the Lakers are to L.A. fans and we can assure them that we're actively engaged with Time Warner cable on how best to make the new network available in all our local customers' homes," DirecTV said in a statement.
"Time Warner and DirecTV share a responsibility to make sure both Lakers fans and non-fans avoid any extraordinary increases to their families' monthly bills. We plan to carry TWC SportsNet in a way that is affordable for everyone."
But the stalemate is frustrating for subscribers to other services who must scramble for other viewing options.
TWC has about 1.7 million of the 5 million TV homes in Southern California. DirecTV is second with about 1.1 million.
TWC is asking for $3.95 per subscriber each month for both the SportsNet and Deportes channels, among the highest fees ever charged for a regional sports network.
The Lakers' coverage for games goes as far north as Fresno, west to Hawaii, south to the Mexican border (as well as Tijuana) and east to Las Vegas.
These negotiations are expected to reach a conclusion before the first regular season game Oct. 30, which has the Lakers at home against Dallas but is already set for national coverage by TNT.
The next night, the Lakers are in Portland and that game is exclusive to SportsNet and Deportes. There are 72 games on TWC SportsNet and Deportes during the regular season, with the other nine national broadcasts by ESPN, ABC or TNT. Some of the other ESPN/TWC SportsNet games are dual broadcasts.
While many cities in the area have access to Time Warner, it isn't an option for Long Beach.
"It's not fair to those who have other cable services," said Crystal King of Long Beach by email. "It's like having another NBA lockout. Because of their choices they are limiting people on when, where and how they can see games."
The move is even hampering local watering holes.
"We can't get the game here, or anywhere in Long Beach that I know of," said Eric Johnson, co-owner of Legends Sports Bar in Belmont Shore. "It's brutal. It's definitely a challenge. I'm being told that a deal will be reached, mostly because how can it not? We're hoping it's done by (the) opener. There's a lot of interest in seeing the Lakers this year because of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash."
Long Beach resident Amy Pearson said she has been a Lakers fan since she was a child.
"Whose brilliant idea was it to leave thousands of fans behind," she responded by email. "I was so looking forward to watching (Dwight) Howard and (Steve) Nash on this team. And now? I can't."
Staff Writers Pamela Hale Burns and Tim Grobaty contributed to this report.
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