SBD/October 19, 2010/Media

Time Warner Cable, Disney Plan To Make ESPN Live On The Web

ESPN Channels Will Be Made Available Online To Time Warner Cable Subs

ESPN Exec VP/Sales & Marketing Sean Bratches said that Time Warner Cable and The Walt Disney Co. “plan to make ESPN channels available live on the Web for the cable company’s TV subscribers on Oct. 25,” according to Nat Worden of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES. The date coincides with ESPN’s broadcast of the Giants-Cowboys “MNF” game, which features two teams that “hail from Time Warner Cable markets.” The service “will be provided free to video subscribers of Time Warner Cable.” Worden wrote the move “marks a big step forward for the industry’s push to move its TV subscription model online and head off competitive threats from emerging online video alternatives that could lead some consumers to cancel their traditional pay-TV subscriptions with cable and satellite companies.” ESPN is “still working with various sports rights owners to put all its programming online,” but Bratches said that the company “has permission for most of its content and it has the technical ability to insert alternative content into its online broadcast in the cases where it does not.” Bratches added that the online channels “won’t show advertisements that are on TV during commercial breaks because ESPN plans to begin developing a new stream of advertising revenue by selling those spots.” The network also is “having discussions with other TV providers.” Verizon “reached a similar agreement with Disney” this month for its FiOS TV service and Bratches said that that service “is planned for launch on Jan. 18” (DOW JONES NEWSWIRES, 10/18).

THE LATEST CREATIONS FROM BRISTOL: ESPN recently reached an agreement with Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks and FiOS TV to carry ESPN Goal Line and ESPN Buzzer Beater, and Bratches said, “I don’t think it gets much better than Goal Line. It’s the best of college football (and soon, college basketball with ESPN Buzzer Beater), all in one place. The decision to launch these channels grew from conversations with our affiliates, who often list growing sports tiers among their priorities.” Bratches said of ESPN 3D, "Consumers have been trending about where we thought they would when we announced the launch of this network last Jan. HD adoption also started with a slow, steady pace and we are seeing that 3D is about the same if not slightly faster than that. The benefit to us is that fans have seen 3D in the movie theaters so they know what 3D looks like." Meanwhile, ESPN "has been at the forefront of market segmentation ... through plays such as local Websites, ESPNU and now espnW," and when asked how important that focus is to future growth, Bratches said, "For affiliates, more opportunities to create value locally is critical. And for advertisers, more market segmentation means that we have the opportunity to provide an attractive audience to a local advertiser who may not need a national presence. We are many things to many audiences in many places, but as we embark on each of these products, we have to be resonant, authentic and relevant" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 10/19).

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