Cablevision, NFL Network Fumble Rutgers Bowl-Game Deal

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Rutgers football fans and alumni who are Cablevision Systems subscribers will have to go to a local bar or befriend a Time Warner Cable subscriber to see their team play in next week’s Texas Bowl.

NFL Network, which will telecast the Dec. 28 Rutgers-Kansas State Texas Bowl game, rejected Cablevision’s offer to carry the game on a stand-alone basis rather than distributing the network’s free preview offer.

The Dec. 24-30 preview offer -- which includes the Texas Bowl, as well as the Dec. 29 Minnesota-Texas Tech Insight Bowl -- was accepted by Time Warner Cable earlier in the week.

The 41 million-subscriber network has been embroiled in a carriage dispute with both Time Warner and Cablevision over licensing fees and tier distribution issues.

“We are very disappointed that Cablevision and the Dolan family have turned down the same free offer that we agreed to with Time Warner and other cable companies,” NFL Network said in a prepared statement. “It is very unfortunate that Cablevision customers in New Jersey and New York will not see the Rutgers bowl appearance and the NFL Network. Time Warner, Comcast and all satellite-dish viewers in the area will be able to enjoy the game.”

Cablevision -- which said it would clear a broadcast-basic channel for the game -- said in a letter to the network that it feels that NFL Network should offer the game on a broadcast channel in the teams’ local markets, much like the National Football League does with New York Jets and Giants games.

“By carrying the game on a broadcast-television outlet, you would also ensure that non-digital customers of Comcast and Time Warner Cable would be able to see the game, in addition to the approximately 1 million homes in the New York metropolitan area not served by cable or satellite providers,” the letter said. “Obviously, the key point of the exercise is to allow Rutgers fans to watch their team play in a bowl game.”

Cablevision countered, “Dealing with the NFL Network is beginning to feel like dealing with Lucy and the football. We haven’t turned down anything. What part of, ‘Yes, we will carry the Rutgers game to 100% of our customers,’ do they not understand?”

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