After 8 Year Fight, Time Warner Cable To Carry NFL Network

UPDATED: The nation's second largest cable operator officially announces it will carry the league owned network, which this season for the first time will have 13 Thursday night games.

Now that the National Football League has locked in its broadcast deals for the next eight years, the league owned NFL Network has brought to an end an even longer running drama  by finally contracting for carriage on Time Warner Cable, it was jointly announced Friday by Time Warner Cable and the NFL. 

The deal is for multiple years, but a league spokesman said they would not be more specific about how many years the contract runs, or any of the terms. 

The agreement comes a month after the NFL Network also finally arraigned to be carried on Cablevision, which had been another longtime hold out. Both Cablevision and Time Warner, the second largest U.S. cable system operator,  had balked at the price the league wanted and could not agree on what tier of service it would be carried on until now.  SNL Kagan has reported in the past that the NFL Network commands a fee of about 95 centers per subscriber per month.

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The two cable giants are important because they dominated the New York (Cablevision) and Los Angeles (Time Warner) markets, the two largest in the U.S. The NFL Network is now on all major cable system operators reaching the bulk of American television homes in all major markets. Time Warner Cable (which was spun off from Time Warner and is a seperate company) has about 12 million subscribers in the U.S. 

It appears that after eight years of discussions which bore no fruit that not having the NFL Network was becoming a competitive disadvantage for the big cable system operators at a time they are fighting to hold market share against satellite, online and over the top operators (who sell signals to consumers in various ways in markets where cable has been king until now).

One thing which increased the league’s clout is that under its new broadcast contracts signed late last year it was able to almost double the number of Thursday night games carried exclusively on the NFL Network to 13 this year.  The The NFL Network and its NFL RedZone will debut on Time Warner Sept. 23, and will then carry the Cleveland Browns game against the Baltimore Ravens Sept. 27.

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The NFL Network, in addition to the Thursday games during the season, operates around the clock offering GameDay shows, NFL pre-season games, the Senor Bowl, coverage of the NFL Draft, the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremony, and such shows as NFL Total Access, NFL Films programming, Top 10, Playbook, NFL Replay, NFL Classic Games, Sound FX, America's Game and more. 

NFL RedZone, produced by the NFL Network, has coverage from every NFL game every Sunday during the season. When a team goes inside the Red Zone (the 20 yard liine), fans see the key plays live. The channel switches from game to game on game days. 

Time Warner Cable was also negotiating on behalf of the Bright House, the sixth largest MSO in the U.S., as it does on other big program agreements. Bright House will follow the same roll out schedule as Time Warner. 

The NFL Network will be be on Time Warner’s digital basic tier which has about 175 HD channels,  and on its Sports Pass tier. RedZone will be on the SportsPass tier which already offers NHL Network (if there are any games in a season threatened by a strike), the Big Ten Network and the Tennis Channel.

Bloomberg News first reported the deal before it was announced. 

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