NBA Bounces Along With TV Changes

NBA Bounces Along With TV Changes
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Superstorm Sandy disrupted the start of the National Basketball Association season in New York last week as the league and cable partner TNT were forced to scramble when the Nov. 1 New York Knicks-Brooklyn Nets basketball game at the Nets’ new arena was cancelled.

TNT — which had been scheduled to televise the Knicks-Nets game as part of its weekly Thursday night NBA doubleheader telecast — had to replace the lost game with two, one-hour episodes of acquired series The Mentalist, network officials said. The league has yet to reschedule the game.

TNT aired the Oklahoma City Thunder-San Antonio Spurs game at 9:30 p.m. as originally scheduled (viewing numbers were not available at press time).

NBA TV’s Halloween telecast of the Los Angeles Lakers-Portland Trail Blazers game, meanwhile, set a network ratings record by drawing 868,000 viewers. Combined with a San Antonio Spurs-New Orleans Hornets telecast, the network posted its most-viewed opening night ever, with 758,000 total viewers.

Meanwhile, distribution dominoes continued to fall for the new TV home of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers. Time Warner Cable’s L.A.-based regional sports networks added three multichannel-video providers for Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Spanish-language Time Warner Cable Deportes.

Charter Communications, Verizon Communications’ FiOS TV and AT&T’s U-Verse signed up in time to show the networks’ first Lakers game, on Oct. 31.

As that deadline passed, TWC still hadn’t signed two other big local distributors, DirecTV and Cox Communications, though talks were continuing.

Per several reports, TWC is charging $3.95 per subscriber per month for the networks, making them among the priciest RSNs in the country.

Comcast SportsNet Houston, the new home of the NBA’s Rockets, launched on Comcast on Oct. 1 in the Houston area, where it has about 800,000 cable customers.

The network also has deals with Coastal Link, Consolidated, EnTouch and Phonoscope, reaching about 40% of the area’s viewers. But it lacks deals with satellite providers Dish and DirecTV, telcos AT&T and Verizon, and MSOs Time Warner Cable and Cox in the market. A network representative said CSN Houston is in negotiations with all distributors.