NBA TV will be part of the digital-sports-tier roster Time Warner Cable of New York City and New Jersey plans to launch next month.
The operator will position the National Basketball Association’s network alongside The Tennis Channel, extreme-sports proponent Fuel and a trio of Fox Sports Digital Networks (Fox Sports Atlantic, Fox Sports Central and Fox Sports Pacific) on the digital-sports tier, which will tip off Nov. 19.
The tier will be available to Time Warner New York and New Jersey digital customers for an additional $3.95 per month.
Barry Rosenblum, president of Time Warner of New York and New Jersey, speaking after a press conference held Monday morning at the NBA Store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, also said it was the MSO’s intent to migrate local regional sports channels Madison Square Garden Network, Fox Sports New York and Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network to the digital sports tier.
Rosenblum noted, "Contracts are up" with MSGN and FSNY at year-end. And as of July 29, the MSO began offering its customers the option of disconnecting YES and receiving $1 per month off their cable bill.
When asked how many defectors there had been from YES -- which presents New York Yankees regular-season Major League Baseball games and also carries the NBA’s New Jersey Nets -- Rosenblum said, "Not many."
Meanwhile, litigation brought by YES against Time Warner Cable in late August continues.
Filed in the Supreme Court of New York County, the suit seeks a permanent injunction prohibiting the "negative repositioning" of YES, and it would make Time Warner live up to its obligations under its affiliation agreement to continue to distribute the network on "standard" expanded basic, as opposed to "standard plus," which costs $1 extra per month with the "à la carte addition of YES."
YES spokesman Bob Davis said the suit remains "live," but he did not provide an update about where it stands on the court docket.
Davis also agreed with Rosenblum’s characterization about the number of subscribers that have dropped YES since late July.
Rosenblum said the MSO currently counts some 600,000 digital subscribers in its footprint encompassing the New York City boroughs of Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island and Brooklyn, as well as communities in Bergen and Hudson counties in New Jersey; the mid-Hudson counties in New York; and the Westchester County, N.Y., city of Mount Vernon, which abuts the Bronx.
Prior to moving to channel 451 on Time Warner’s digital-sports tier, NBA TV will be available on as a free preview from Oct. 28 -- the night the NBA tips off its 2003-04 season -- through Nov. 18.
NBA commissioner David Stern said the network will air 95 regular-season NBA games this season, including 50 in high-definition, beginning with the Cleveland Cavaliers and heavily hyped rookie LeBron James against the Portland Trail Blazers Nov. 1.
Stern noted that NBA TV would air at least a pair of playoff contests, and it could run as many as seven, depending on the length of opening-round series and the schedules of cable carriers Turner Network Television and ESPN.
After the press conference, Stern -- who said NBA TV expects to have all of its games available in high-definition format next season -- added that negotiations with MSOs for the service continue.
He said the network met twice with Comcast Corp. last week, and it remains confident that it will gain carriage with the nation’s leading MSO and other operators. "Every MSO is different," Stern added. "They are all at different places and have different issues about digital tiering."