And then there was one.
Time Warner Cable became the only NFL Network holdout among the nine largest television providers in the country Thursday when Cablevision and the pro football network announced a multi-year distribution agreement.
Cablevision has 3 million subscribers (mostly in the New York City area). With the deal, the NFL Network now reaches more than 60 million homes.
Unfortunately for football fans in the desert, it doesn’t sound like a deal is close between the NFL and the Coachella Valley’s dominant TV provider.
Minutes after the Cablevision deal was announced, NFL Network anchor Rich Eisen tweeted a playful jab at the lone broadcast holdout: “Time Warner Cable! This is NFL Network! We’ve got you surrounded! Come out of the house with your hands up!”
The NFL Network expanded its offerings for the upcoming season by adding additional games in the hopes of increasing distribution. The NFL Network will now broadcast 13 regular-season games, up from eight last year.
The next logical question for Time Warner Cable subscribers in the desert probably is “could the deal with long-holdout Cablevision mean Time Warner Cable is close as well.”
At present, it sounds like the lines of communication are closed between the NFL and Time Warner Cable.
“We are not talking, regrettably, so as a result we’re obviously not close,” said NFL Media chief operating officer Brian Rolapp. “Certainly with this Cablevision deal, and you look at the rest of the pay-TV universe, the market has been cleared for some time around the NFL Network and the RedZone, both in levels of distribution and pricing, and everything else.
“We believe there were plenty of reasons to carry the NFL Network before this season and the RedZone; there are now even more with these 13 games which we’ve not asked for substantial price increases from anyone for these extra games. Time Warner recently also dropped the NFL Network to customers on former Insight systems, mainly in the Cincinnati market and others. They acquired Insight; Insight had been a partner of the NFL since 2005. We actually offered to extend that agreement for one year at zero price increase; in fact, just change the date on the agreement and let’s not deprive fans of service. We wouldn’t ask for more money, even though we were putting more games on the network, and they refused that.
“Why they’re not carrying the network is a better question for them. Clearly the rest of the industry is and is happy with it; they have struck deals, they are renewing deals and the level of the service and the quality of the service speaks for itself.”
Last week, Time Warner Cable spokeswoman Maureen Huff told The Desert Sun in an email that conversations between the two sides were ongoing.
“We feel that the NFL is still asking for terms that are not in line with the current value of the programming they offer,” Huff said. “But 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.”