ESPN Classic has suffered another distribution hit, with Comcast Corp. moving
it to digital to make room for other networks -- including the MSO's own Outdoor
Life Network -- in the Washington, D.C., market, officials said.
As a result of the changes earlier this year, ESPN Classic has lost about
200,000 Comcast subscribers in Arlington, Va., and Montgomery County, Md.,
according to an ESPN spokeswoman.
The loss of those homes, albeit not a huge number, comes on top of the major
blow ESPN Classic weathered at the start of the year. That's when EchoStar
Communications Corp. dropped the channel from its Dish Network lineup -- a move
that resulted in the sports network losing 5.1 million subscribers.
Comcast has been trying to standardize channel lineups at its systems in the
Washington DMA, which resulted in ESPN Classic's move to digital, as well as a
number of other changes, according to a Comcast spokeswoman.
In Arlington, a system upgrade meant adding Outdoor Life, Speed Channel, Food
Network and Cartoon Network to analog basic and moving ESPN Classic and Toon
Disney to digital, the Comcast spokeswoman said.
Comcast took control of Outdoor Life's ownership last year.
In Montgomery County, ESPN Classic and HBO Family were shifted to digital,
while Discovery Health Channel, Outdoor Life and Style were added to expanded
basic. Game Show Network was moved to full-time status on analog from
Comcast had also launched ESPN Classic in Arlington, Va., on a digital tier,
the Comcast spokeswoman said.
Regarding Comcast moving ESPN Classic to digital in Arlington, the ESPN
spokeswoman said, 'They were part of a contractual commitment, and we knew about
it for some time.'
ESPN Classic currently has about 40 million subscribers.