Time Warner Cable Deportes launched on October 1 as the first Spanish-language regional sports network in the country and the first ever, to broadcast the Los Angeles Lakers in Spanish. This is also the first time in the history of the NBA that a team will be followed this closely by an American-based sports network that will speak to the Latino community.
There has been some movement towards this in the league. The Chicago Bulls recently extended their Univision radio agreement and the Orlando Magic will now be broadcasting their games in Spanish via their website.
It will be the first time that a National Basketball Association (NBA) team will be covered exclusively with original content designed and produced for the Spanish-speaking community.
“Our commitment to Southern California’s Spanish-speaking sports community is deeply important to us,” said Mark Shuken, Senior Vice President and General Manager, TWC Regional Sports Networks. “We will deliver an in-depth and engaging viewing experience that deepens the connection between the Hispanic community and the Lakers.”
“This is the nation’s largest Hispanic market and we are proud to partner with Time Warner Cable Deportes to create the country’s first local Spanish-language sports destination,” said Tim Harris, Senior Vice President of Business Operations for the Los Angeles Lakers. “Time Warner Cable Deportes fulfills a big part of our vision for giving Lakers fans the best local sports experience in the country.”
All Lakers games on Time Warner Cable Deportes, home and away, will be produced in Spanish by a dedicated team and called live by play-by-play announcer Adrián García Márquez and analyst Francisco Pinto. Veteran sports host Ricardo Celis will lead in-studio Lakers commentary for the network.
Interview with Vice President of Time Warner Cable Deportes, Pablo F. Urquiza
PB: How did this all come about, and what teams do you think might follow your example soon?
PFU: The Los Angeles Lakers are an incredibly important team on many levels-they are emblematic to this city, they really are Los Angeles. We know the Latino community has followed and loved the team for many years but until now, the only way for them to enjoy the games was on the radio or through the SAP system. For us, this is an opportunity to serve the Latino Laker fan in a way that has never been done before. And we are talking about broadcasts that go beyond language. We have a dedicated production and broadcasting team that travels with the Lakers-they work closely with the team and that closeness and special access is what we are able to bring to our viewers
in a way that speaks to them, in their language…this is truly historic. And the demographics of this city tell the best story: Los Angeles is 45% hispanic, and this number will keep growing. Los Angeles is the top Hispanic market in the country, representing almost 20% of all Hispanics in the U.S. I could see that any other team located in a big urban center will follow our steps. The key here is to be authentic and have relevant programming.
Interview with broadcaster Francisco Pinto
What are you most excited about with this announcement/deal?
1.- It’s such a fantastic opportunity for us. There are only a few times in your life when one is given the opportunity to be part of something that is of historical proportions and this has never been done before. Up until our launch, the level of excitement had been hard to contain so it is great to finally be on the air. Also, the fact that we are doing it with The Lakers makes it even more special. The Lakers are a first class organization at every level. Their tradition, their championships, and their Hall of Fame players show the team’s true commitment to excellence. All of this adds an enormous responsibility for all involved. We can’t fail and we won’t fail because there are millions of Latino Lakers fans that for decades, have had great coverage of their team, but now we are able to bring it to them in Spanish, all thanks to the team at Time Warner Cable Deportes.
What do you think the biggest challenges will be?
2.- We know the Lakers are an important and powerful brand in Southern California and the world. They are part of the soul and heart of our city. One challenge of course, is to find the best way to translate that passion to the homes of those fans. Personally, I have a great relationship with my partner during Lakers game broadcasts and that is Adrian Garcia Marquez. Adrian does the play by play and not only is he my colleague, he is my friend and that we both have great respect for one another’s pregame work and preparation. We have a great chemistry because of that. I don’t have to worry about him and he doesn’t have to worry about me. We just have to do our job, and by gosh, do we have an amazing job to do!
This is an exciting time for us and for the Lakers, who have put together and amazing team to go for that 17th banner. Finally, another challenge is that of distribution because we know it plays a very important part in this. We are confident of the network’s product and that we have put together a great team of professionals. I have no doubt that once viewers see and hear our work for the first time, they’ll want to come back for more. This is why it’s important that everyone has access to the games on our network and we hope that happens soon.
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports
A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; he’s also a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.