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Spectrum SportsNet eyes ratings rebound, ad sales jump with LeBron James in LA

The addition of LeBron James to the Los Angeles Lakers lineup is expected to produce a huge jump in ratings and higher ad sales for Spectrum SportsNet/Deportes (US), the regional sports network home to the NBA franchise, during the 2018-19 season.

Charter Communications Inc. executive Dan Finnerty in an interview after a panel at a sports business conference on Oct. 16 said Spectrum SportsNet anticipates a major audience rebound with James, one of basketball's all-time great players, leading the Lakers.

During the 2017-18 season, Spectrum SportsNet averaged a 1.84 household rating for Lakers' telecasts in the Los Angeles market, up from a 1.64 in the prior campaign. Finnerty believes that Spectrum SportsNet’s ratings average could double this season and approach the regional sports network's rookie-year delivery over the course of James' multiyear contract, especially if the squad makes deep playoff runs.

Spectrum SportsNet succeeded Time Warner Cable SportsNet after Charter purchased Time Warner Cable Inc. in 2016. When Time Warner Cable launched the regional sports network, also home to the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks and Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy, just ahead of the 2012-13 NBA season, it averaged a 4.6 household average in the Los Angeles market.

Spectrum SportsNet officials also expect ad sales to jump, but not as much, according to Finnerty. The regional sports network is anticipating a 25% increase this season, looking to recoup dollars formerly budgeted for the Lakers "that went elsewhere." According to Finnerty, there will be more advertising growth ahead as the ad market catches up with the improved ratings.