N.Y. Op Adds a Sports Tier

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Time Warner Cable of New York and New Jersey is introducing a $3.95 digital sports tier this month — and might launch a second tier later to accommodate regional sports networks.

On Nov. 19, the system will bow a tier featuring NBA TV, The Tennis Channel, extreme-sports network Fuel and a trio of Fox Sports Digital Networks (Fox Sports Atlantic, Fox Sports Central and Fox Sports Pacific). The local operation has about 600,000 digital customers.

Barry Rosenblum, president of Time Warner of New York and New Jersey, attended a press event last Monday featuring a free preview of NBA TV. He said the MSO intends to migrate local regional sports channels Madison Square Garden Network, Fox Sports New York and Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network to a digital tier. "Contracts are up" with MSGN and FSNY at year-end, he said.

As of July 29, the MSO began offering customers the option of disconnecting YES and taking $1 off the cable bill. The channel, carrying New York Yankees and New Jersey Nets games, suffered "not many" defections, Rosenblum said.

YES has sued Time Warner Cable in New Jersey, attempting to permanently block the "negative repositioning" of YES. YES wants to be on "standard" expanded basic, not "standard plus," which costs $1 extra per month to include YES.

YES spokesman Bob Davis said that suit is pending.

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