Cablevision subscribers may get a chance to see Tennis Channel's coverage of the U.S. Open next week after all.
Availing itself of the network's agreement with the National Cable Television Cooperative, Cablevision has opted to add Tennis Channel to its iO Sports Pak, which includes 15 other networks and retails for $5.99 monthly.
Cablevision would like to position Tennis on channel 399 in standard-definition and 795 in the high-definition format, beginning Friday Aug. 28, three days before the 2009 U.S. Open begins, should Tennis provide its signal. Cablevision said Tennis is required to do so by its contract with NCTC, which negotiates programming deals for member cable operators.
Tennis Channel on Wednesday afternoon issued the following statement:
“Tennis Channel is flattered to be so desired by Cablevision that the MSO has, it seems, for the first time in its history, joined a buying co-operative of operators much smaller than itself to pursue a single, independent network. While we strongly agree with Cablevision that their viewers would like to watch Tennis Channel’s 240 hours of US Open programming beginning this Monday at 11 a.m. ET, we’re uncertain of the highly suspect nature of their recent commitment to a co-op for smaller operators. As such, we are reviewing the specifics of this questionable announcement with our legal team before making further comment.”
For its part, NCTC returned Tennis' volley thusly: "NCTC would prefer to facilitate a resolution through private discussions with Tennis Channel. Jeff Abbas, NCTC president and CEO, has some concerns with Ken Solomon’s statements and he will pursue those discussions directly with Mr. Solomon."
Both Cablevision and NCTC indicated that the operator only recently became a member of the cable coop.
A Cablevision spokesman said the operator had informed NCTC of its intention to avail itself of the contract clause this morning, and similarly communicated its wont to Tennis.
The sports network ran print ads last week decrying its inability to come to terms with the New York area's predominant cable operator, and how area tennis fans would miss its extensive coverage of the Grand Slam event, which includes some 72 hours of live match coverage.
The parties have been discussing positioning for many years, with the sports tier being at the crux of those talks. However, Cablevision more recently has offered Tennis both placement on the iO Sports Pak, as well as its iO Gold package, which counts some 300,000 customers. Tennis believes it deserves wider penetration.
"We think this is a great solution that will allow New York tennis fans to see the Tennis Channel's coverage of the U.S. Open," said John Trierweiler, Cablevision's senior vice president of product management, in a statement. "We have opened up channels 399 and 795 for the standard-definition and HD feeds of the Tennis Channel and are looking forward to making the network available to our Sports Pak customers by Friday, in time for the start of the U.S. Open. We hope the leadership of the Tennis Channel will work with us to expedite this process and ensure that New York tennis fans are able to enjoy its coverage of this major event."