Cox and DirecTV know that there is no regional sports network anywhere in the country that is offered on an optional tier -- that would be unprecedented.
and there is no regional sports network that comes with a Spanish channel that they want in a basic pack.
Now are they ok with the Spanish channel being in a optional Spanish pack?
You are thinking old school. Cox, DTV and others are trying to change the paradigm. What happened in the past is in the past, the world has changed. Directv leadership in their own statements are clear on this, "DIRECTV CFO Pat Doyle was recently quoted in a BusinessWeek report as saying that the "dialogue" around sports networks needs to change so that only "the people that want sports ... pay for sports."
The same article cites DIRECTV CEO Mike White as saying that, if he had a magic wand, "the first thing I would peel off is regional sports networks." He added, "The cost is just too high."
Their margins are shrinking drastically over the last few years with 10%+ programming cost increases that they cannot pass on to customers at the same rate. In the "old" days of 5 or 10 years ago, sports programming was high but not this high. So deals made then should not be compared to the landscape of today. Furthermore, deals today often involve only a few teams, thus further adding on to cost while they still have to pay for the former RSN and whatever scraps they keep on their network.
I would not be surprised if DTV adds the Lakers, but I would equally not be shocked if they never add Pac 12, Houston, Philadelphia, Northwest or when new contracts come up that they no longer continue to carry them. Yes, their brand was build somewhat on sports, but even then sports customers only make up about 35% of their base. They are alinating far more customers that are not sports fans with huge price increases for sports content their non-sports customers don't care about. They cannot ignore those 65%.
Most of you probably don't know why Dish abandoned New York years ago. Most of it was due to the regional sports network costs. When you add MSG, SNY, YES, MSG+ the cost to a Dish or Fios or DTV is about $18 to $20 a month per subscriber. Think about that for a moment. They are charging $60 for a basic package and $20 of it is coming from 4 channels that many people don't care about. Now add in the cost of ESPN, another $4+, and CNN, FOX, Bravo, etc, etc, etc and whe you add it all up, these guys are making next to nothing on those packages. No money to reinvest in their business.
The distributors see this loud and clear and DTV is trying to change the conversation. They may fail, they will lose some subscribers, but their goal is to stay in business because the world has changed. It cannot go on like it has. The more and more that the DTV's and others push back, the chance of sports sanity in the cost structure might take hold. Might.