Last Friday, for the first time ever, Koreans in Southern California were able to watch Lakers games in their native language. Time Warner Cable SportsNet’s Korean Secondary Audio Programming (SAP) is the first-ever for English-language television.
Time Warner Cable Sports partnered with Radio Seoul to provide Korean-language SAP for games on Time Warner Cable SportsNet. Sports writer and commentator Paul Lee will call all the games in Korean.
1.4 million Koreans reported their race in the 2010 Census to be either Korean alone or in combination with any race. The largest ethnic Korean population is in Southern California (LA, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside and Ventura Counties.)
“We are extremely proud to partner with Radio Seoul to provide the first-ever Korean SAP for English-language television,” said David Rone, President, Time Warner Cable Sports, in a statement. “Between Time Warner Cable SportsNet’s Korean SAP and Time Warner Cable Deportes, the first Spanish-language regional sports network, we’re able to speak to Southern California sports fans in their own languages and include them in a way they’ve been never included before.”
According to the 2009 American Community Survey, 30.4% of Korean Americans speak English only, 69.6% speak a language other than English at home, and 41% speak English less than “very well.”
The popularity of the Los Angeles Lakers among Koreans extends beyond the borders of Southern California and the United States. Leslie Berestein Rojas reminds us on Multi-American blog that in 2011 thousands of Koreans greeted Kobe Bryant in Seoul when he arrived to conduct a basketball mini-clinic with young local players.
“The NBA recognizes that it’s got an international brand that’s become profitable thanks to a range of fans. It’s encouraging to see that the Lakers are making an effort to reach out to its Korean-speaking audience because it’s a hint at just how powerful and racially diverse sports fans are in the U.S.,” said Colorlines.com’s news editor Jamilah King.