What is now Fox Sports West was launched under the Prime Ticket name on October 19, 1985; the channel was originally co-owned by Dr. Jerry Buss, majority owner of the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Kings, and cable television pioneer Dr. Bill Daniels, who held a minority ownership interest in both franchises. Unlike many of the regional sports networks in operation at the time of Prime Ticket's launch, the channel was (and still is) structured as a basic cable channel, instead of a premium service. The network originally broadcast for seven hours a day, each evening from 5:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. The first contract with Prime Ticket was negotiated and signed by Tony Acone, who was appointed as president of the channel, and Bob Kerstein, chief financial officer of Falcon Cable TV. Leslie Watson, a certified public accountant employed by the accounting firm of Coopers & Lybrand, joined Prime Ticket as its first financial controller through the early years of the channel.
Prior to the launch of Prime Ticket, Los Angeles Lakers basketball and Los Angeles Kings hockey games (primarily home games that were not televised nationally) were carried within the Los Angeles market on the over-the-air subscription services ONTV and SelecTV. Its original general offices were located in a small office building located across the street from the Great Western Forum in Inglewood.
Prime Ticket became one of the leading regional sports networks in the United States, rivaling the New York City-based Madison Square Garden Network. The network was founded at the height of the Lakers' 1980s championship run, and also got a boost from the trade of Wayne Gretzky to the Kings in 1988.
In late 1988, Daniels partnered with Tele-Communications Inc. to form a new group of regional sports networks, known as the Prime Sports Network. Prime Ticket served as the flagship charter affiliate, joined by the newly formed owned-and-operated outlet Prime Sports Rocky Mountain (now Root Sports Rocky Mountain), and two networks that served as affiliates, Home Sports Entertainment (now Fox Sports Southwest) and the newly launched Sunshine Network (now Sun Sports).
In 1990, Prime Ticket acquired the cable television rights to the California Angels (now the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) and the Los Angeles Clippers. The channel carried the Clippers' NBA games during the 1990-91 season, before the team struck a broadcasting agreement with SportsChannel Los Angeles (originally Z Channel) that went into effect the following season. SportsChannel Los Angeles later ceased operations in December 1992, which left the city's professional sports teams having to broadcast their locally televised games either over-the-air or in the form of select cable-exclusive telecasts for the next four years.
In August 1994, Buss and Daniels sold Prime Ticket to the Prime Network's parent company, Liberty Media, which subsequently rechristened the channel Prime Sports West. In 1996, News Corporation, which formed a sports division for the Fox network two years earlier after it obtained the broadcast rights to the National Football Conference, acquired a 50% interest in the Prime Network from Liberty Media.
On November 1, 1996, the Fox/Liberty joint venture relaunched the Prime Network affiliates as part of the new Fox Sports Net; as a result, the channel was officially rebranded as Fox Sports West. The following year, Fox Sports Net expanded to other regions with the purchase of a 40% interest in the SportsChannel networks through an asset trade with Cablevision Systems Corporation, forming the venture National Sports Partners to run the owned-and-operated regional networks.
On January 27, 1997, Fox Sports Net launched a secondary channel, Fox Sports West 2, to carry in-market cable broadcasts of Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Dodgers and Anaheim Ducks games, as well as other events that FSN West could not fit onto its broadcast schedule. The launch of Fox Sports West 2 allowed Fox Sports West to focus its major league sports coverage of the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Angels.
In 2000, Fox Sports West and Fox Sports West 2 were respectively rebranded as Fox Sports Net West and Fox Sports Net West 2, as part of a collective brand modification of the FSN networks under the "Fox Sports Net" banner.
In 2001, Fox Sports West and West 2 relocated their offices and studios from the Century City section of Los Angeles to Downtown, in an office building two blocks east of the Staples Center. During this time, a streetside studio for the channel's game telecasts opened at the exterior of the Staples Center, at the southwest corner of 11th (Chick Hearn Court) and South Figueroa Streets. In 2004, the two channels respectively rebranded under the shortened names FSN West and FSN West 2, as part of Fox Sports' de-emphasis of the "Fox Sports Net" brand across its regional networks.
On April 3, 2006, FSN West 2 rebranded as FSN Prime Ticket (later shortened to simply Prime Ticket), beginning with the Dodgers season opener against the Atlanta Braves at Dodger Stadium. The network adopted a new philosophy to concentrate more on local originally-produced content (such as the documentary series Before the Bigs and In My Own Words, and team-themed Insider shows) and less on supplemental national programming provided by Fox Sports Net. FSN West reverted to the Fox Sports West moniker in 2008.
In the fall of 2009, just as rival ESPN opened its new Los Angeles-based broadcast center directly across the street at the L.A. Live complex, Fox Sports West shut down its Staples Center streetside studio. The channel began to produce its pre-game and post-game shows at the site of each televised event shown on the two networks; as weather permits, pre-game and postgame shows for most Clippers, Lakers and Kings home game are produced at Star Plaza, near the main entrance of Staples Center. The former Fox Sports Staples Center studio has since been converted into a conference center, with Nike as the corporate sponsor.
In 2012, Fox Sports West and independent station KCAL-TV (channel 9) lost the television rights to the Lakers to Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes, two new regional sports networks established as a result of a 20-year agreement between the team and the cable provider, which began with the 2012-13 season. The networks also acquired the rights to air WNBA and Major League Soccer games featuring the Los Angeles Galaxy and Los Angeles Sparks.
Fox Sports West's deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, whose games aired via sister network Prime Ticket, expired at the end of the 2013 MLB season. On June 20, 2011, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig rejected a proposed contract extension between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Prime Ticket, citing concerns that the deal was structured in a way that most of the proceeds would end up being assigned to beleaguered Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and not the team's operations. Both Fox Sports West and the Dodgers were involved in separate lawsuits over the team's broadcast rights as well as the sale of the club. On January 10, 2012, Fox and the Dodgers reached a settlement in court, clearing the way for the sale of the team. Fox's exclusive negotiating period with the Dodgers expired on November 30, 2012 – leaving the team open to competing offers.
On January 22, 2013, reports surfaced that Time Warner Cable had agreed to partner with the Dodgers to form a new regional sports network, SportsNet LA, which would be majority-owned by the team. The deal became official on January 28. Time Warner Cable was acquired by Charter Communications on May 18, 2016.
In July 2013, News Corporation spun off the Fox Sports Networks and most of its other U.S. entertainment properties into 21st Century Fox.
In the Los Angeles market, in the case of scheduling conflicts, Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket will move a scheduled telecast of an Angels, Clippers, Ducks, or Kings game to KCOP-TV (Channel 13), the local MyNetworkTV owned-and-operated station and sister station to the two networks. Those KCOP Angels and Clippers telecasts may also be streamed via the Fox Sports Go application for those outside of the Los Angeles DMA; Prior to the 2016-17 season, Kings and Ducks games were not streamed on the application, as Fox Sports and the National Hockey League did not come to a streaming rights agreement until the summer of 2016.
Prime Ticket provides an alternate feed known as "Courtside View" during select Ducks and Kings home telecasts aired on Fox Sports West; the feature provides distinct camera angles and does not incorporate commentary, providing a broadcast simulating the experience of a spectator at the arena.
Fox Sports West maintains widespread cable carriage in San Diego County. However, the two major providers in the area, Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications, have refused to carry Prime Ticket since its launch in 1997; both cable providers claim that the network has asked for carriage fees they deemed to be too expensive for carriage on their expanded basic tiers. However, Prime Ticket is carried on some former systems that Time Warner Cable acquired in 2006 from Adelphia Communications. Adelphia had added the channel to their lineup in 2001.
On March 17, 2012, as part of a contract signed with FSN to acquire the local cable rights to the San Diego Padres, Fox Sports Networks created a separate regional network for the San Diego market, Fox Sports San Diego. Despite that channel's launch, Fox Sports West remains available on cable providers in the San Diego area; however, Fox Sports San Diego carries some programming (including most live sporting events) from Prime Ticket, which essentially makes striking any carriage agreement for that channel unnecessary.
Because the San Diego Padres hold territorial rights for all of San Diego County, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim games are blacked out in the county on Fox Sports West regardless of the cable or satellite provider, requiring a subscription to the MLB Extra Innings out-of-market sports package to view those telecasts. All other sports programming, with the exception of Angels baseball games carried on Fox Sports West, is available in San Diego County.