BREAKING NEWS: ALL-SPANISH SPECTRUM DEPORTES OUT AUG. 15, ENGLISH ALL-NEWS CHANNEL IN
By Tom Hoffarth
El Segundo-based Spectrum Deportes, the nation’s only 24/7 Spanish-language Regional Sports Network that airs Lakers and Galaxy games as a fully-distributed channel in Southern California, will shut down Aug. 15, citing research that shows a lack of viewership, a Charter Cable network spokesperson confirmed Monday.
TheDrillLA.com broke the news of this on Twitter earlier in the day Monday.
Spectrum Deportes was launched as Time Warner Deportes in October, 2012, coinciding with the arrival of Time Warner SportsNet, now known as Spectrum Sportsnet. It has been the main regional TV home for the Lakers after the team left Fox Sports West and KCAL/Channel 9.
The timing of the move may seem strange as the Lakers have made global news with the signing of LeBron James to the roster, and the Sports Business Journal recently reported that 30-second TV ads on Spectrum SportsNet would fetch $14,000 — double the previous season, or even higher if the team’s ratings exceed expectations.
However, the fulcrum behind the decision is that Spectrum, the same cable outlet that has had issues with full distribution efforts behind the Dodgers’ SportsNet L.A. channel, plans to replace this Spanish-language channel with a hyper-local English all-news feed, sources insist. The company has been placing many employment ads seeking producers, writers and on-air-talent for this project for months.
Several Spectrum Deportes broadcasters and technical help were told of the decision last Friday.
The most notable broadcasters on the channel have been Adrian Garcia Marquez and Francisco Pinto on the Lakers’ game coverage, and Samuel Jacobo, Martin “Pulpo” Zuniga and Elmur Souza on Galaxy games. The next live event scheduled for the channel is the Galaxy-Colorado game in Colorado on Saturday at 6 p.m.
The Lakers’ Hispanic fan base has been important to them — a 2016 ESPN story points out that it has been pegged at 42 percent of its total followers. The Lakers once had Spanish-language TV coverage when Prime Ticket launched La Cadena Deportiva in the 1990, and they have had a Spanish-language radio outlet in Los Angeles for more than 25 years.
A Charter spokesperson said changing habits in viewership has led to this Deportes attempt ending.
“As with any network, we are constantly evaluating our programming to provide our viewers with content they want to see,” said the spokesperson. “While we never expected Lakers and Galaxy games to have equal viewership on Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes, the network averaged less than a few thousand viewers per season since its launch.
“Accordingly, though it was not an easy decision, we’ve decided to cease operations of Deportes on August 15. This realignment reflects research and feedback that the vast majority of our Spanish-speaking viewers consistently watch Lakers and Galaxy games and programming on SportsNet. For example, our research shows that Lakers broadcasts had 12 times as many Spanish-speaking viewers on SportsNet than on Deportes during the 2017-18 season.
“It’s important that we follow our viewers and super serve them on the channel they turn to and rely on for Lakers and Galaxy coverage. As part of our ongoing commitment to provide high-quality programming for our viewers, we will be putting these resources behind Spectrum SportsNet.
“Spectrum is committed to serving the Hispanic community and we will continue to listen to our viewers and work closely with our partners to provide content that resonates with all of our viewers.”
The Lakers, Galaxy and other live game programming on Spectrum SportsNet will continue to have a Secondary Audio Programming (SAP) in Spanish.
Some working at Spectrum Deportes have complained about a lack of promotion of the channel and viewers unable to find it on their cable or dish systems easily. The Spectrum Deportes Twitter account — @spectdeportes — has not had a post since Sept. 2017.
This story was posted at 6 p.m. Monday.
It was updated with a company spokesperson comments at 7 p.m. Monday.
It was updated with an excerpt in the Sports Business Daily on Tuesday at 10 a.m. It was updated Wednesday at 10 a.m. with a clarification about the Lakers’ history of Spanish language broadcasting.