On the eve of its first of two games featuring unbeaten clubs, NFL Network has scored a trio of distribution deals: a new pact with Massillon Cable TV, the addition of its primetime slate with Knology and a renewal with Grande Communications.
The deals, terms of which were undisclosed, come as the NFL Network will present the 13-0 Indianapolis Colts visiting the Jacksonville Jaguars in a key AFC South contest on Thursday Dec. 17 and the New Orleans Saints trying to maintain their pursuit of regular-season perfection in the Superdome against the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday Dec. 19.
NFL Network, which has raised its subscriber base to nearly 55 million homes, notched a pact with Massillon Cable for its Basic Plus level of service, comprising more than 50 networks, to its Stark County, Ohio customers. Positioned on channel 104 in standard definition, NFL HD, located at channel 704, is also one of 15 Basic Plus networks available in the enhanced format to customers at no extra charge.
Moreover, Massillon has agreed to carry NFL Network and its scoring channel NFL Red Zone as part of its HD Essentials package on channels 692 and 693, respectively. There, the services join Discovery HD Theater, Smithsonian Channel and MGM HD Movies as part of the eight-network Essentials offering.
In addition to the two new channels, customers who receive NFL Network will gain free access to NFL On Demand, kicking off the week Dec. 21.
"Our customers are very passionate about the NFL and we are happy we could reach an agreement to add NFL Network and the exciting new NFL RedZone to our programming lineup," said Massillon Cable TV president Robert Gessner in a statement.
Meanwhile, Knology and NFL Network reached a multiyear extension that will see the distributor add the channel's eight-game primetime slate. The deal comes in time for subscribers of Knology, which has carried NFL Network since 2004, to watch the Colts-Jaguars and Saints-‘Boys games, as well as the Christmas night contest between the Tennessee Titans and San Diego Chargers.
NFL Network is now available to Knology customers as part of its Digital Preferred package in Alabama (except Dothan), Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee. HD customers in Pinellas County, Florida can also view NFL Network in HD. Knology basic and HD customers in Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota already had access to the NFL Network live games through its 2007 acquisition of PrarieWave Communications.
"We serve some of the most avid NFL fans in America and are pleased to continue offering our customers the most in depth coverage of NFL football," said Knology vice president of marketing Tony Palermo.
Grande also announced that it has reached a multiyear renewal with NFL Network, which includes carriage of the primetime slates. Grande customers in Austin, Corpus Christi, Midland, Odessa, San Antonio, San Marcos, Waco and suburban Dallas markets figure to have keen interest on Saturday night when America's Team takes on Drew Brees and crew in NOLA.
"Grande is committed to delivering the programming our customers want," said Grande senior vice president of operations Scott Ferguson. "We are pleased that our partnership with NFL Network is providing the football fans among those customers such exciting end-of-season games, and that our continuing relationship will bring them year-round coverage of the league that's available only on NFL Network, for years to come."