SBD/June 1, 2011/Media

ESPN2's Distribution Dips Below 100 Million HHs After Crossing Barrier In April

ESPN2's distribution has fallen below 100 million homes, according to the June estimates from Nielsen. The channel currently is in 99.988 million homes. In April, ESPN2 broke the 100 million home barrier and stayed above it in May, too. These types of fluctuations are common among cable networks; in fact, among the 14 highest distributed cable networks, only Food Network and Lifetime showed increases from May to June. ESPN is in 100.052 million homes. ESPN's distribution figure is down 135,000 homes from May; ESPN2's is down 162,000 (John Ourand, THE DAILY).

PLAYING DOUBLES: ESPN announced yesterday that it has agreed to a new, four-year multimedia programming deal with Tennis Channel for the Australian and French Opens. ESPN and Tennis Channel will continue to air on-court action from both Grand Slams, and ESPN's telecast windows of the French Open now will be mostly live, a change from the current arrangement. As under the current agreement, ESPN will televise more than 50 hours from Paris, concluding with the women's semifinals. Meanwhile, ESPN's Australian Open schedule -- part of an agreement with Tennis Australia through '21 -- calls for more than 120 hours of coverage, including the men's and women's semifinals and championships. The new deal takes effect with the '12 French Open and the '13 Australian Open (ESPN).

ALWAYS LOOKING AHEAD: ESPN Exec VP/Affiliate Sales & Marketing David Preschlack said that "fast-evolving technology is ESPN's friend." Preschlack claims that he "doesn't mind the stress of trying to craft contracts that will cover nascent technology that may be on the horizon, but isn't even quite there yet." He said, "Is there pressure? Yeah, absolutely. But it's good pressure. It forces us to continue to get better. We've been operating in that environment for quite some time." Preschlack added, "I'm paying attention to the 3D marketplace like everybody else, in terms of some of the challenges, which I view as opportunities. Betting against 3D is betting against technology. The user experience is just going to get better" (MULTICHANNEL NEWS, 5/30 issue).
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