CSTV Joins Time Warner Cable Sports Tier

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Approaching its first anniversary, College Sports Television last week reached a distribution deal with Time Warner Cable, for carriage primarily on the MSO’s digital sports tiers.

The network, which debuted last April, will launch on Time Warner systems in Syracuse and Rochester, N.Y.; Waco, Texas, and Portland, Maine.

CSTV CEO Brian Bedol said the carriage pact also extended to Bright House Networks for distribution on that operator’s Detroit system. The Advance Newhouse Communications-owned Bright House systems were previously part of Time Warner Entertainment, so Time Warner Cable still handles some programming acquisitions.

Bedol would not reveal specific subscriber counts tied to rollouts or disclose deal terms. He said the deal “provides a framework for a long-term partnership that allows us to have a terrific business if their customers like the service and gives them protection that we’re going to continue to be a good value in terms of product cost.” With 15 million subscribers, CSTV’s key affiliations have been with DirecTV Inc., Adelphia Communications Corp. and Insight Communications.

Programming-wise, CSTV also said last week that it will offer a variety of National Collegiate Athletic Association College Basketball Tournament offerings as part of its multimedia coverage of the three weeks of “March Madness.”

As part of its 32 Days of Madness, 64 Hours a Day campaign, CSTV will feature live specials on March 14 examining brackets from the NCAA men’s and women’s tournament draws; exclusive highlights; pre- and post-game press conferences; player and coach interviews after each day of action; and a live call-in program each day of the men’s tournament.

CSTV will telecast highlights from vintage college-basketball tournaments; a special on the 1979 Michigan State-Indiana State finals game, in which basketball legends Larry Bird and Magic Johnson faced off; and a documentary on college and pro hoops star David Thompson, said the network.

The collegiate-sports service also has been retained by Spike TV to produce the official 2004 Division I Men’s Basketball Championship highlights show. Male-targeted Spike — a sister network to tournament rights-holder CBS — will air six programs, beginning March 16 and extending through the final, April 5.

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