NFL Network on fourth down and forever with Time Warner Cable

Just in time for football season—and obsessive day-long picture-in-picture watching by fantasy footballers—NFL Network has made progress getting its NFL Network and NFL RedZone channels on more cable TV systems. Yesterday, both Cablevision Systems (NYSE: CVC) and Mediacom announced that they had forged new agreements with the programmer to carry its channels, joining Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) and others.

However, one last group of customers from a major cable TV system remains unable to access the NFL channels. Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) is the last of the MSO giants not to have an arrangement with NFL Network, and it sounds like it will not be happening anytime soon, as NFL Media COO Brian Rolapp said on a conference call Thursday that the two parties are not even discussing a deal.

"We are not talking [to TWC], regrettably, so as a result we're obviously not close," Rolapp said. "The issues for us are a bit perplexing. 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."

Rolapp said another cable TV company in the top 10 providers, Bright House Networks, also does not carry its channels, but he added that this should not come as a surprise, given that TWC handles distribution negotiations for Bright House. He also said TWC recently dropped NFL channels from the former Insight markets after Insight, prior to being acquired by TWC, had carried NFL programming 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," Rolapp said. "We wouldn't ask for more money, even though we were putting more games on the network, and they refused that."

NFL Network recently increased its number of live-broadcast NFL games to 13. Rolapp said the channels are now carried by eight of the top nine cable TV companies, and will reach 60 million homes this year.

For more:
- read this Cape Gazette story on Mediacom's NFL deal

Related articles:
Cablevision and NFL Network reached agreement this week
DirecTV last month announced an NFL Sunday Ticket promotion

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