If Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) wants "must-have" regional sports to go along with its Google Fiber TV system in Kansas City, incumbent MVPD Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) is willing to share some of what it has on its Metro Sports network. But "must-have" is all that must be delivered; for anything else, Google must invest on its own, TWC said.
"TWC has absolutely offered, and continues to offer, what the FCC describes as Metro Sports' 'must-have' live regional sports programming--men's and women's Division 1 basketball--at fair and reasonable prices," the service provider said in a statement reported by Multichannel News. "As for the remaining programming on Metro Sports, we have long invested in local programming and (Google is) welcome to do the same."
Google, in discussions with the FCC, has talked about the importance of being able to provide its Google Fiber TV customers with regional sports programming and how difficult it often is to obtain this. In Kansas City, sports are the property of TWC's Metro Sports and Fox Sports Kansas City, with whom Google is still in negotiations.
Getting Fox Sports could be less problematic than tapping into the entire Metro Sports lineup because FSN is already widely available in the market and a Fox spokesman told the publication that the network is "interested in distributing our content as broadly as possible."
Time Warner Cable is not alone in how it has invested in--and profits from--Regional Sports Networks (RSNs) which can lock up the local teams for a single provider. That's at least partially why the FCC is looking at whether or not it should let the program-exclusivity ban that was part of the 1992 Cable Act lapse when it expires Oct. 5.
Google Fiber, meanwhile, could be at a disadvantage in attracting new customers for its $120 a month bundle of broadband and TV service, if it can't deliver up local sports. The new FTTH service, which TWC execs have called an "experiment," according to the Multichannel News story, is planning to build out 180 of 202 "fiberhoods" in the next few years based on demand from pre-registered consumers.
TWC CFO Irene Esteves downplayed the impact those fiberhoods would have on her company by noting that "less than 1 percent" of Time Warner's subscribers (fewer than 100,000 Internet and 100,000 video subs) overlap with Google's footprint.
- Multichannel News has this story
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