Cablevision Consents To Launch ESPNU

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About two weeks after agreeing on a tentative retransmission-consent agreement that put the New York ABC television station back on its network, Cablevision Systems said it has reached a deal with ABC parent The Walt Disney Co. to carry ESPNU and several other networks in standard and high-definition.
According to Cablevision, the Bethpage, N.Y.-based MSO has already begun carrying 24-hour college sports network ESNPU in both standard- and high-definition in some locations and will make it available across its 3 million-subscriber footprint by Thursday. The channel is a new one for the MSO. In addition, Cablevision has agreed to carry the HD feeds of the Disney Channel, ABC Family, Disney XD and ESPNews.
Cablevision reached a tentative retransmission-consent deal with WABC in New York on March 7, which put the station back on the air about 13 minutes into the broadcast of the 82nd Academy Awards.
Cablevision would not comment on whether this most recent agreement was tied to the WABC retrans agreement, citing its policy not to comment on agreements or discussions with programmers.
Disney also declined to comment.
While it is still undetermined whether the WABC deal has been finalized -- neither side would say -- the most recent agreement could account for the wide range of values some people put on the retrans deal. According to several published reports, values ranged from a high of 60 cents per subscriber per month to a low of 27 cents per subscriber per month.
Miller Tabak media analyst David Joyce said the addition of ESPNU and the other HD feeds could make up the difference.
"I think that bridges the gap," Joyce said.
According to Cablevision, ESPNU will be located on channel 144, ESPNU HD on 794, Disney Channel HD will be at 731, ABC Family HD at 749, Disney XD HD at 750 and ESPNEWS HD at 796.
"We are pleased to launch ESPNU and ESPNU HD, and to add popular services like Disney Channel and Disney XD to our free HD line-up, which now includes 118 high-definition channels, all available without the extra equipment or programming fees many of our competitors charge for HD," said Cablevision's senior vice president of video product management Gary Schanman in a statement.