NFL Net gives cablers freebie week

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NEW YORK -- The NFL Network on Tuesday offered the cable industry's version of an extra down to Time Warner Cable and Cablevision, offering the MSOs a chance to give their subscribers a free weeklong preview of the channel at the end of the year.

The 3-year-old network had 41 million subscribers at the start of this football season but not many in the New York-New Jersey region. Time Warner Cable and Cablevision are holdouts on the channel, which has been the subject of a battle across the negotiating table between the MSOs and the NFL Network.

The MSOs are battling the NFL Network over the cost of subscriber fees and also whether the channel should be on a sports tier or the widely distributed lineup. The NFL Network also has been the subject of a court battle between Time Warner Cable and DirecTV (HR 12/11).

The proposed free preview to the New York-New Jersey DMA would run from 6 a.m. Dec. 24 through 8 p.m. Dec. 30, including the Texas Bowl between Rutgers University and Kansas State University on Dec. 28, the Insight Bowl between Minnesota and Texas Tech on Dec. 29 and the rest of the NFL Network's regular programming.

What it won't include, however, is any NFL games. The NFL Network on Thanksgiving started the first year of its primetime Thursday/Saturday package of games, but no one in New York has been able to see any of them, with the exception of the games involving the New York Giants or New York Jets that are shown on over-the-air TV.

There was no immediate indication that either company would go for the preview. Cablevision reps couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday about the proposal, and a Time Warner Cable spokeswoman said Tuesday that the company had just received it.
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