SBJ/October 24-30, 2011/Media

Biggest distributors resist Longhorn Network

It appears that Texas football is not creating the kind of leverage that Longhorn Network was seeking with local cable and satellite distributors.

Less than a week before carrying its second University of Texas football game, sources say that the ESPN-owned channel still is not close to deals with Time Warner Cable or DirecTV, the state’s largest cable and satellite operator.

The Oct. 29 game against Kansas is notable, since both teams are part of the Big 12 Conference. But Kansas was 2-4 at deadline, and is hardly considered a marquee matchup for Texas.

Longhorn Network’s previous football game was a 34-9 Texas win over Rice in early September.

The channel, which launched in late August, signed several carriage deals before the first game, including ones with Verizon and Grande Communications. The network is in 4 million homes nationally.

The channel costs around 40 cents per subscriber per month in a four-state region that includes Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma.

Sources say some of the bigger distributors are waiting to see what the Big 12 Conference will look like once the most recent round of realignment shakes out. At deadline, Missouri was expected to apply to move to the Southeastern Conference, which would leave the Big 12 with nine teams. Cable and satellite operators are reluctant to commit to a channel like Longhorn Network when the conference still is in so much flux, sources said.

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