Cablevision Agrees To Deal To Carry NFL Network, NFL RedZone Channels
NFL Network signed up one of its two remaining major holdouts today when Cablevision signed a multiyear deal to carry NFL Network and NFL RedZone. The channels will go live on Cablevision systems tomorrow: NFL Net on Cablevision's expanded basic package (iO Preferred) and NFL RedZone on its sports tier (iO Sports & Entertainment Pak). The deal comes as a surprise, since Cablevision CEO James Dolan has said in the past that Cablevision wasn't likely to carry NFL Net as long as the NFL offers its "Sunday Ticket" package exclusively to DirecTV. The launch of the popular NFL RedZone channel on cable seems to have been enough for Cablevision. NFL Net also expanded its live game schedule to 13 Thursday night games this fall, though those games are offered over-the-air in the participating teams' home markets. The move leaves Time Warner Cable as the only distributor to not carry the channel. TWC was close to a deal with NFL Net last fall before talks ended. NFL Net says the two sides have not had meaningful negotiations. "We are not talking, regrettably," said NFL Media COO Brian Rolapp. "We are not close...The market has been set for some time." For its part, TWC said negotiations have been occurring with the league. "Conversations are ongoing and we remain hopeful that we can reach a resolution. But we have been close before only to have it fall apart so we need to be cautious about predicting success," a TWC spokesperson said in an emailed statement. Cablevision has about 3.3 million basic video homes, and this deal will put NFL Net in half or more of them. As of last month, NFL Net was in close to 60 million U.S. homes. In a prepared statement from the press release, Cablevision's Exec VP/Programming Mac Budill said: "We know there is significant interest in the NFL Network and NFL RedZone among our Optimum TV customers."