All Cablevision customers to get Texas Bowl

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NEW YORK -- The NFL Network and Cablevision agreed Friday to carry the channel for a weeklong free preview beginning Christmas Eve that will include the Texas Bowl featuring Rutgers.

Cablevision will carry the Texas Bowl on its basic cable channel 14, which is available to every one of its customers, on the evening of Dec. 28. And it will carry the originally offered free preview Dec. 24-30 on a digital basic tier similar to the one that the NFL Network will carry the channel on at the same time.

The deal comes after two days of harsh words between Cablevision and the NFL Network, which don't have a regular carriage agreement. Without a temporary one, Cablevision's customers in New York and New Jersey wouldn't be able to watch the Texas Bowl featuring the New Jersey college Rutgers.

"In the spirit of the season, let's do both," wrote Cablevision COO Thomas Rutledge in response to the NFL Network's Friday deadline to decide whether to carry the channel as a free preview from Dec. 24 to Dec. 30.

"We are pleased that NFL Network, including the Rutgers appearance in the Texas Bowl, will now be widely available throughout the New York-New Jersey area for six days," the NFL Network said in a statement Friday. "This is a great opportunity for fans that have not yet seen NFL Network and we know they will appreciate its high quality programming."

The NFL Network isn't normally seen in the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut region because the dominant cable operators are Time Warner Cable and Cablevision. Only customers with satellite reception or other cable companies have access to the channel.

Cablevision had pushed to have the Texas Bowl on broadcast TV, like the Dec. 30 New York Giants-Washington Redskins game that will be carried elsewhere on the NFL Network.

"While we will accept the NFL Network's offer to 'freeview' its programming in front of our digital basic customers, we also believe strongly that 100 percdent of our New York-area customers should have the ability to watch the Rutgers game," Rutledge wrote. Cablevision has 3.1 million households in the New York -New Jersey region.

The offer caps a nearly two-week battle between the NFL Network and the two MSOs -- Cablevision and Time Warner Cable -- over the NFL Network's offer to carry the channel that neither company regularly does so that New York-New Jersey region customers can see Rutgers play in the Texas Bowl. Time Warner Cable settled with the NFL Network on Monday.
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