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CBS Blackout: Time Warner Cable Makes Tennis Channel Available During U.S. Open

U.S. Open Tennis

UPDATED: Those in impacted markets like New York and L.A. can watch cable but still won’t get live coverage of the big finals matches.

One of the big issues in the 3-week-old blackout of CBS channels on Time Warner Cable systems in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and elsewhere has been sports fans' complaints about missing major events.

To address that, in part, Time Warner Cable on Wednesday said it will offer its digital customers in the affected areas a free feed of Tennis Channel coverage of the U.S. Open Tennis Championship Series.

From Aug. 26 through Sept. 9, Tennis Channel will broadcast almost 240 hours of U.S. Open coverage, including primetime matches over Labor Day weekend. There also will be daily preview and highlight shows on the channel.

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However, only CBS will broadcast the mixed doubles final and women’s singles finals on Sept. 6; the men’s singles semifinals and women’s doubles final on Sept. 7; the men’s doubles final and women’s single finals on Sept. 8; and the final and most viewed match, the men’s single final on Sept. 9.

This is the 46th consecutive year CBS has broadcast U.S. Open matches. This year it has about 40 hours of coverage planned. CBS Sports Network will carry 20 hours of coverage during Labor Day weekend.

In a statement, CBS said, "The only way to watch CBS's coverage of the U.S. Open on television is on CBS."

Spokespersons for CBS and TWC said on Wednesday negotiations on a new contract continue but that there is no current progress to report.

Eric Abner, spokesman for The Tennis Channel, which is currently available in about 35 million U.S. TV homes, said TWC is taking advantage of an offer they have made every year since 2009 to carry the U.S. Open and the three other major tennis tournaments (the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon) as a free service to all subscribers. On most systems, as on TWC, The Tennis Channel is available on a tier, which means subscribers have to opt to take it and pay a bit extra to get it. 

"It gives us more exposure, and we want people to see what we are all about," said Abner. 

TWC did not take advantage of the free preview of The Tennis Channel last year, according to Abner, who said they made the same offer to almost all cable and satellite providers. DirecTV and Dish Network are also both offering the Tennis Channel for free during the U.S. Open period. 

The U.S. Open is the most watched of the major tournaments that air on The Tennis Channel, and is the last of the four this year. The second-most-watched is the French Open. 

Although the highest-profile matches in the U.S. Open are only on CBS, all of them are rebroadcast later the same day or the next day on The Tennis Channel as well. 

TWC notes that their subscribers also have access to other live U.S. Open matches on ESPN2 and CBS Sports Network. When the blackout began, CBS said in some press releases that CBS Sports Network would be affected but in fact it has not gone dark on TWC systems.

“We appreciate our customers’ patience as we work to resolve the blackout with CBS,” said Mike Angus, TWC’s senior vp and general manager of video.  “We know the U.S. Open is popular programming. We’re pleased to be able to offer additional programming via Tennis Channel to customers affected by this dispute."

More than 200 U.S. Open matches will also be available for free on www.usopen.org. To watch finals weekend matches, viewers will need the U.S. Open app, which works on iPhones and Android phones.

A schedule of events and TV listings is available at at the tournament's official site.