NFL Network Scores Carriage Deal With Cablevision

Agreement leaves Time Warner Cable as the last major MSO holdout

After years of being all but shut out of the nation’s top market, NFL Network has established a beach head in the greater New York DMA, inking a multi-year agreement with Cablevision.

Effective Aug. 17, NFL Network will be available on channel 150 in Cablevision households that subscribe to the digital-plus tiers iO Preferred, iO Silver, iO Gold or the iO Sports and Entertainment Pak. Per terms of the deal, the Sunday look-in service NFL RedZone will set up shop on channel 151.

The standard beefs about tiering and sub fees had long been at the heart of the Cablevision-NFL Network stalemate. Per SNL Kagan estimates, NFL Network charges a princely carriage fee of 84 cents per sub per month, making it the fourth most expensive national cable channel on the dial.

Financials were not disclosed. The deal comes just six months after the NFL elected to hand five additional regular-season games to its in-house media apparatus. The first of NFL Net’s 13 Thursday Night Football telecasts is set to air on Sept. 13 (Chicago at Green Bay).

With a total video sub base of 3.26 million households, Cablevision is the fifth largest cable operator in the country. The Bethpage, N.Y.-based MSO is ranked No. 9 among all pay-TV providers when satellite TV services and telcos are factored into the equation.

“We know there is significant interest in the NFL Network and NFL RedZone among our Optimum TV customers, and are pleased to have worked productively with the NFL to offer both channels in time for the upcoming season, and for years to come,” said Mac Budill, Cablevision’s evp of programming, by way of confirming the agreement.

The deal leaves Time Warner Cable as the lone major NFL Net holdout. Both sides had appeared to be on the verge of coming to terms last summer, but negotiations were scuttled before a binding agreement was drafted.

While NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s optimism couldn’t move the needle a year ago, the Cablevision breakthrough could be just the thing to bring Time Warner back to the table. Minutes after the carriage deal was announced, NFL Net anchor Rich Eisen tweeted a playful jab at the elusive MSO: “Time Warner Cable! This is NFL Network! We’ve got you surrounded! Come out of the house with your hands up!”)

In the near term, however, the lines of communication between the NFL and Time Warner would appear to remain closed. “We are not talking, regrettably,” said NFL Media chief operating officer Brian Rolapp.

Time Warner serves 12.7 million subs nationwide and is the leading operator in the greater New York metro area. The company runs systems in 12 of the NFL’s 32 home markets.

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