Goodell Wants To Huddle With Time Warner Cable

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Glenn Britt should expect a call from Roger Goodell soon.

The NFL commissioner figures to reach out to Time Warner Cable chairman in the wake of Comcast reaching a long-term deal for NFL Network, video-on-demand content and the pro football league's proposed Red Zone channel.

Goodell and Roberts shared a conference call with reporters announcing the top cable operator's pact, which both executives agreed was accelerated through personal discussions.

Asked if the NFL was currently negotiating with Time Warner Cable, which along with Cablevision, Charter and Suddenlink have been locked at the negotiating line of scrimmage with NFL Network over price and positioning, Goodell said "not to my knowledge. But I hope to open dialogue with Time Warner Cable."
Goodell went on to say that with the availability of the RedZone Channel, which showcases scoring opportunities and touchdowns, there is "a new way to create value and open up opportunities, similar to the arrangements with Brian."
Comcast, which has been engaged in various legal disputes with NFL Network, will move the service from a sports tier, where it has attracted about 2 million subscribers, to its Digital Classic service by Aug. 1. The upgrade will make NFL Network available to some 10.8 million Comcast subscribers, according to Goodell.
The deal, terms of which were not disclosed and were not specified by the executives on the conference calls, also means an end to their program carriage dispute that was before an FCC judge, and legal action in New York.
Sources put the term at 10 years with a monthly subscriber fee in the 40-50 cent range.
Roberts, who noted that if Goodell had not gotten personally involved that this would have "taken longer," said both sides made compromises, with Comcast looking to balance making the service broadly available, while keeping costs at long-term, predetermined, sustainable rates. "We didn't want to have discussions every few years," he said
To that end, Goodell said no determination had been made yet about adding two more games to the NFL regular-season slate (the league's owners are currently meeting in Fort Lauderdale) and if such an expansion would trigger NFL Network ultimately presenting a full-season's worth of games.

Roberts, meanwhile, mentioned that the Comcast "had never really been talking about equity" as a means to getting the deal done.

As to the RedZone Channel, Roberts said Comcast was planning to position it on the sports tier. "In our view [RedZone Channel is] a logical replacement for NFL Network on the sports tier," he said. "We'll look to make a decision on that before the season."

During the conference call, Goodell said that with deals in place with DirecTV and now Fox and CBS, under two-year extensions through the 2013 season, the league could push ahead with the RedZone channel. He said the NFL wants to deploy the service "in the most effective ways to our fans," before adding the league wants to "stay on free TV in an effective way for our Sunday partners."
The service doesn't figure to have the ratings impact on the Sunday carriers on a sports tier that it could if it were made more widely available.
As part of the new rights deals, CBS will televise Super Bowl in 2013, with Fox carrying the NFL championship game in 2014.

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