This summer, NBA superstar Lebron James, signed as a free-agent with the Los Angeles Lakers. Fans were thrilled to have a superstar join their team for at least the next four years. But unfortunately for cord-cutters in L.A., they won’t be able to watch him.
Back in February 2011, the Lakers and Time Warner Cable signed a $3 billion, 20-year cable television agreement to televise the games on Spectrum SportsNet. This season the channel will air 70 regular season games.
Spectrum SportsNet is one of the few regional sports networks (RSN) that are unavailable on any of the major Live TV Streaming Services.
The channel is currently offered by traditional cable and satellite companies - DirecTV, Spectrum, Cox, AT&T U-verse, and Frontier.
This means that if you live in Los Angeles and you’ve switched to a service like DIRECTV NOW, YouTube TV, or PlayStation Vue — you’ll be shut out of watching all but the twelve of Lebron’s games on ABC, ESPN, and TNT.
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Oddly enough, Lebron fans outside of the Los Angeles area will be able to catch almost every single one of his games.
By subscribing to NBA League Pass, the league’s out-of-market package, fans around the world can watch all but nationally televised games for $199 a season. This has led to many local fans without cable to use a VPN to mask their location to overcome blackout restrictions.
In the last two years, most regional sports networks have become available to streaming services. All but four NBA teams can have their games streamed locally with streaming services. However, those on independent RSNs like Spectrum SportsNet, AT&T SportsNet, and Altitude haven’t kept up with the trend.
This means Lebron isn’t the only superstar that local fans will be shut out from watching. Cord Cutters in Houston won’t be able to watch Chris Paul, James Harden, and Carmelo Anthony on AT&T SportsNet Southwest. Fans of the Denver Nuggets (Altitude) and Utah Jazz (AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain) also won’t be able to stream games without cable.
With nearly 33 million people expected to cut the cord by the end of 2018, sooner or later these channels are going to have to offer their channel through other services in order to maintain their viewership.