Bobcats Add Time Warner, Seek Additional Carriage

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Bob Johnson’s Charlotte Bobcats have a carriage contract with Time Warner Cable in the region, but his club is still filling out its overall distribution roster.

The National Basketball Association team reached an agreement, terms of which were not disclosed, for Time Warner to air 50 of the club’s games this season in North and South Carolina. Time Warner’s News 14 network will carry Bobcats games in Charlotte and Raleigh, according to Brad Phillips, vice president of government and public affairs at the Raleigh division.

TEAM WILL PRODUCE

Production of the contests falls to the Bobcats, which will also develop pre- and postgame programming for News 14. Phillips said News 14 will air the entire package, replacing the network’s regularly scheduled one-hour news wheel on the attendant dates.

At press time, though, Time Warner was seeking appropriate venues — a press release mentioned an expanded basic channel in Greensboro, N.C., and a digital sports tier in South Carolina — to air the games elsewhere in the two states.

“We’re working on ways to get the programming to our locations and divisions,” Phillips said, declining to elaborate.

During an Oct. 17 press conference announcing the arrangement — which provides for the cable company sharing TV advertising sales against the games — Time Warner Carolina region senior vice president of marketing and sales management Brian Kelly estimated the games would reach some 1.2 million households in the company’s local systems.

That’s significantly more than the Carolinas Sports Entertainment Television, the team’s own service, reached last season, when it was only available to Time Warner digital customers. The network shut down in June.

NO SATELLITE

With this agreement, the Bobcats are able to pursue deals with other cable operators in the Carolinas, including Charter Communications Inc., Mediacom Communications Corp. The deal boxes out satellite providers, according to Phillips. A spokesman for the Bobcats confirmed that the deal is cable-exclusive.

“Our arrangement with Time Warner is that they will obviously be our flagship carrier, but we are free to market to other system operators throughout the region, and we are doing so,” Bobcats president and chief operating officer Ed Tapscott said during the press conference.

Last Thursday afternoon, the Bobcats spokesman said the club was engaging in conversations with distributors but had not yet reached any other carriage deals.

Fifteen other games of the club’s sophomore season will be presented on WJZY, the UPN affiliate in Charlotte, and the ad hoc Bobcats Television Network, club officials said.

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