SBD/September 7, 2011/Media

Tennis Channel Pulled From Cablevision, Verizon FiOS During U.S. Open

Cablevision and Verizon FiOS customers "abruptly lost their access to Tennis Channel on Sunday midway through the United States Open," according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. A new contract between Tennis Channel and the National Cable Television Cooperative, a consortium of cable operators that Cablevision and Verizon belong to, went into effect after midnight Sunday. The deal "requires its members to place Tennis Channel on a broad digital basic level -- or not at all." Tennis Channel Dir of PR Eric Abner said that the "wide majority" of the cable cooperative's members who carried the network under the consortium's old agreement "have chosen to continue to carry it under the new agreement." Verizon Manager of Media Relations Kevin Laverty said "conversations are ongoing." But Abner said that "negotiations are not continuing with Cablevision" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/5). MULTICHANNEL NEWS' Mike Reynolds noted at approximately 12:05 ET on Sept. 4 -- about five minutes after Cablevision's contract with the NCTC for sports tier carriage concluded, Tennis Channel's screen froze and viewers "saw the screen lock into a Garnier ad that ran during a commercial break" during "U.S. Open Tonight." Reynolds: "At around 12:30 a.m., the screen for the network's standard-definition feed showed the following statement over a background of two greenish, yellow tennis balls: 'Cablevision's contract with Tennis Channel has expired. Tennis Channel has decided not to renew our agreement and has unfortunately pulled their programming from our customers'" (, 9/4). CABLEFAX DAILY notes Tennis Channel is "so serious about its no sports tier stance that it has bid adieu to an available universe" of more than 10 million HHs. In addition to Cablevision and Verizon FiOS, several other cable providers "didn't opt in to the new co-op deal requiring broad distribution," including Suddenlink, Mediacom, WOW!, Knology and GCI. NCTC said a "significant number" of its members discontinued carriage. But NCTC added that the "bulk of its members do not carry the net on a tier (thus, the majority of members are keeping the channel)" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 9/7).

NIGHT AND DAY: In N.Y., Harvey Araton wrote the U.S. Open scheduling "can and has played a role in determining the outcome of the tournament." However, Tournament Dir Jim Curley explained that "a multitude of player and network interests factor into cramming a zillion matches into the annual fortnight." Curley: "We don't really look at it as day versus night because there are pros and cons of both. Some players would rather play when it's cool. Some don't want to finish after midnight or later." Curley said that Mardy Fish "actually prefers to play during the day." But Araton noted Fish would "seem to have earned more attention" than Andy Roddick, who "has played twice on the nighttime stage" in the first five nights of this year's tournament (N.Y. TIMES, 9/3).
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