Time Warner Cable, ESPN team up for Monday Night Football online tonight

Time Warner Cable and ESPN this week are testing whether live premium programming--initially tonight's Monday Night Football game between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants--streamed online behind a paywall will prove attractive to fans and, eventually provide revenue.

ESPN will be available to any TWC authenticated subscriber on the Internet.

"We think this can be a catalyst to drive the industry towards broader adoption of the authentication model," said Sean Bratches, executive vice president of sales with ESPN. "We anticipate doing this with a number of other affiliates."

While it's not the first live sports stream going out in the U.S., it is one of the biggest with the MNF franchise--albeit with more modest ratings than it had two decades ago--still considered a major draw (even with the Jekyll & Hyde Giants against the We-Once-Were America's Team Cowboys ). Nonetheless, the Wall Street Journal called it "a high profile stage for a risky experiment."

Melinda Witmer, chief programming officer with Time Warner Cable, said the company sees the deal with ESPN as "a wake-up call for the sports industry" and a good step forward in the TV Everywhere ecosystem.

"It will demonstrate that the Internet can be used productively for live sports programming in a way that benefits both distributors and content providers," she said.

For more:
- see this WSJ article

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