Cable Operators

ESPN Nets NCTC Deal

3/03/2004 8:47 AM Eastern

ESPN continued its run of long-term affiliate carriage agreements, reaching a multiyear agreement with the National Cable Television Cooperative.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but sources close to both sides said the deal extends through 2014, two years longer than recently announced ESPN carriage deals with Cox Communications Inc. and Charter Communications Inc.

NCTC president and CEO Michael Pandzik would only say that the cable cooperative was "in the ballpark" of Cox’s and Charter’s average 7% annual rate increases over the life of the deal.

He added that the organization is happy with the agreement, which significantly curtails ESPN’s 20% annual increases. The NCTC had more than two years left on its current ESPN agreement.

"[The deal] meets our test and criteria," Pandzik said. "We believe it was commensurate in its terms and provisions to our combined size, and that’s all we ever really want when we sit down to negotiate."

As for ESPN, president George Bodenheimer said Wednesday during The Walt Disney Co.’s shareholders meeting that the agreement was a "win-win" for both parties.

"This agreement fits the overall strategic plan of what we’re working on -- a moderating of the annual rate increase in exchange for a long-term agreement and a commitment to carry our full array of products," he said.