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Cable Technology Feature Article

August 17, 2012

Only One Cable Network Resisting NFL Network

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

With NFL Network, along with NFL RedZone, rapidly making inroads in terms of cable providers ready to carry the network and bring all manner of football action to the airwaves, it may surprise users to discover that, as of today, there is only one real holdout in the form of Time Warner (News - Alert) Cable.

Cablevision signed a multiyear deal to offer both NFL Network and NFL RedZone, and Cablevision was one of just two networks, including Time Warner Cable, to refuse to carry the networks. While Time Warner Cable had previously been engaged in discussions to carry NFL Network, but NFL Media's COO, Brian Rolapp, has said that the two companies are "...not talking, regrettably." He elaborated, saying "We are not close. The market has been set for some time."

Time Warner Cable, meanwhile, says that "conversations are ongoing", and that they "...remain hopeful that (they) can reach a solution". But Time Warner Cable further urges caution in terms of predicting success, as negotiations had gone far previously before breaking down.

For its part, Cablevision had held out as NFL was offering the popular Sunday Ticket program on DirecTV (News - Alert) only, and thus didn't see much reason to get involved. But the addition of NFL RedZone seems to have changed minds at Cablevision, and thus the whole package will go online today. Just what's stopping Time Warner Cable, though, is much less clear.

This is a deal that may ultimately do some damage to Time Warner. While many cable providers are already getting in on the NFL's offerings, the NFL also offers its own streaming package, so those out in the cold with Time Warner may have a reason to depart for one of the online offerings. This may also accelerate some customers' cable-cutting aspirations rather than paying Time Warner to not get football just as the season's about to start in earnest.

The ultimate result of all this will take at least football season to fully be realized, but it's not out of line to suggest that Time Warner may be the one here who takes the penalty on the chin, at least as far as its customers go. In an environment where services like Netflix and Hulu (News - Alert) Plus are gaining ground, and cable companies are in danger of being overthrown, it doesn't seem like the best time for Time Warner Cable to start offering viewers fewer choices.

Edited by Juliana Kenny

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