The Tennis Channel has signed a 15-year affiliation agreement with Time
Warner Cable that will place the upstart network on all of the MSO's systems by
the end of 2003.
There's one catch: The service will be distributed on the MSO's newly
created, a la carte digital sports tier. But Tennis executives were pleased at
obtaining a long-term deal even before they announced a launch date.
'We believe it's unprecedented that a start-up, independent service would
receive a 15-year commitment from an MSO for every one of its systems,' Tennis
chairman and CEO David Meister said.
Time Warner executive vice president Fred Dressler said the unusual long-term
agreement provides the MSO with quality sports programming, as well as
protection against any potential escalation in the network's rate card in the
near future. He declined to disclose specific deal points, though.
'This is a way for us to control sports-programming costs,' Dressler said.
'We feel we've protected ourselves from any significant rate
The network will be carried on Time Warner's new digital-sports tier, which
has been launched in about 25 percent of the MSO's systems.
Meister said the 15-year deal signals the network's willingness to keep
license fees at a reasonable level in an era of rising sports costs.
He added that Tennis isn't going to compete with ESPN or other more
established networks for the rights to major tournaments like the Wimbledon
Championships or the U.S. Open.
Instead, it will provide extensive coverage of those
events when they happen, as well as live coverage of other pro tournaments and
tennis action that isn't currently televised.