Tennis Channel CEO Ken Solomon appeared on CNBC this morning talking about the network's inaugural coverage of the U.S. Open. Part of that message: the network won't be appearing before Cablevision Systems Corp. subscribers in time for this year's Grand Slam event.
Asked about a deal Cablevision has to put Tennis on its sports tier via a contract with the National Cable Television Cooperative, Solomon said "we don't have a deal right now. We hope to get in one in the future."
Solomon, being interviewed on the grounds of the U.S. National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., where the Open began today at 11 a.m., said Tennis deserves to be seen by a "broad range" of viewers and that positioning on Cablevision's iO Sport Pak would only put it before 3% of the MSO's subscriber base, which totals around 3.1 million video customers. He said that's "not right for the U.S. Open."
Early Monday afternoon, Cablevision served up this statement: "We have a valid agreement that will immediately make the Tennis Channel available to any Cablevision customer who wants it. Thus far, the Tennis Channel is claiming a technicality allows it to delay the launch by a few weeks, and is refusing to do the right thing by authorizing Cablevision to receive its signal. Any further delay by the Tennis Channel is at the expense of New York-area tennis fans. Fortunately, Cablevision customers can already view more than 130 hours of the best live U.S. Open coverage on CBS and ESPN."
Solomon, in comments last week, said one of the legal issues involving the Cablevision-NCTC contract was a 30-day period before gaining access to the network.
For its part, NCTC Friday said that it was "unaware of any previous launch request where Tennis Channel delayed authorization for 30 days." Tennis had had an NCTC contract for seven years.
On Aug. 26, Cablevision announced that through its NCTC membership it wanted to launch Tennis on its sports tier, which carries 15 other sports networks and retails for $5.95 per month, in both standard and high-definition formats by Aug. 28, in time for the Open.
Last Friday, NCTC said Tennis channel's contract was "enforceable and valid."
With Cablevision announcing its intent to launch the service on Aug. 26, Sept. 25 could be the day when Tennis may have to accede to authorizing its signal to Cablevision's sports tier.
Network officials were not immediately available to comment.