Suddenlink Launches ESPN360.com

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Suddenlink is the latest cable operator to launch ESPN360.com, the sports giant's live-events broadband portal.

Suddenlink said the service is available to its customers that get broadband service with at least 450 kilobits per second download speeds.

There is a link on Suddenlnk.net to gain access to the service, or it can be accessed via ESPN360.com.  The service currently shows more than 3,500 live sports events annually. Viewers can toggle among 15 different events simultaneously. Recently completed events are archived on the site for on-demand viewing later.

Suddenlink, which operates in 19 states, has about 1.3 million cable subscribers but does not break out broadband subscribers separately. ESPN is paid a license fee for all of its affiliates' broadband subscribers, regardless of how many use it, which has made it a hard sell with some cable operators.

ESPN had a big breakthrough in May when it landed an affiliate deal with Comcast for that cable operator's 15.3 million broadband subscribers. Other big cable operators, though, have shied away from it. 

Regardless, ESPN says that post the Comcast launch, the service is available to about 42 million broadband subscribers. Other large Internet Service Provider affiliates are Verizon and AT&T. Other cable affiliates include Charter, Mediacom, Insight and RCN.

Smaller operators have been particularly vocal with complaints about the ESPN360 model. The American Cable Association president Matt Polka last month said at a trade show the ACA would "fight ESPN360.com and its business model clones because all they do is drive up the retail cost of broadband for everyone," to which ESPN responded it doesn't force affiliates to carry any of its products.

Suddenlink plans to email details about the launch to its customers later today, corporate communications director Gene Regan said.

If Suddenlink Internet customers wish to access ESPN360.com when they are away from home or out of town, they must complete an initial, no-charge registration at ESPN360.com and do so while they're on a computer connected to Suddenlink Internet service, the cable operator said.

After that initial registration at ESPN360.com, from a computer connected to Suddenlink service, customers will have a validated username and password they can use to access ESPN360.com anywhere at any time, from any computer, for no charge.

Suddenlink's major operating areas are in Texas, West Virginia, North Carolina, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and California.

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