The Longhorn Network, scheduled to launch this evening with wall-to-wall coverage of all things regarding to the University of Texas and its sports programs, so far has cut only one deal with a service provider to actually carry the ESPN-backed initiative.
Verizon (NYSE: VZ) FiOS customers--some of them, anyway--will have access to the network, which plans to air about 200 live sports events each year, weekly coaches' corners and features about teams.
But even the deal with Verizon, which only has a footprint in North Texas, doesn't start until Sept. 1, just in time for the Sept. 3 opening football game against Rice.
The biggest service provider around UT's Austin base, Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC), hasn't signed a deal, nor has the nation's largest pay-TV operator, Comcast, or satellite providers that have major footprints in the four-state area--Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma--that the LHN is targeting.
LHN VP Stephanie Druley advised Longhorn fans to be patient and said that deals were in the process of being made.
"This is what happens," she said of the last-minute brokering. "I know people are probably tired of hearing that, but it's the truth."
AT&T (NYSE: T) said it's talking with LHN, but said, as most providers have said, that "the cost is very high" for content that hasn't yet been guaranteed.
TWC said it, too, is discussing a deal.
ESPN and the LHN want 40 cents per service provider customer and to be available on a basic programming tier. Most of the service providers want to place it in a special sports package, and pay only for subscribers to that tier.
- see this article
LHN scoring few points with operators