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SBD/December 21, 2011/Media
Judge Rules In Favor Of Tennis Channel In Dispute With Comcast
Published December 21, 2011
SUBSCRIBER BOOST: Tennis Channel Chair & CEO Ken Solomon said of the ruling, "They were ordered to proceed as soon as is practicable. So we’re preparing to add between 20 million and 23 million households." In N.Y., Richard Sandomir notes that would boost Tennis Channel’s "number of subscribers to more than 50 million; currently, Comcast customers have to pay an extra few dollars to get the tennis network on a digital sports tier." Solomon said the ruling is a "watershed for programmers." He "declined to say what the effect of the decision would be on the Tennis Channel's long-running dispute with Cablevision" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/21). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Schechner & Futterman note if upheld, the ruling "could force broader distribution of a host of smaller cable channels -- especially sports channels whose rising costs have become a source of concern in the cable business." Sports-team owners could have an "easier time getting distribution for their own regional sports networks." Currently their main obstacle is the "unwillingness of cable operators to put a network of interest to only a fraction of their viewers on a tier available to a broad number of their subscribers." But if independent owners can now "claim discrimination in markets where the cable operator owns a sports channel, they may be able to wrestle wider carriage-which would likely drive up cable bills." That effect of the ruling could be "felt relatively soon in Los Angeles, where the Major League Baseball's Dodgers are for sale" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/21).