After nearly ten years of stalled negotiations, Time Warner Cable customers can finally watch the NFL Network, starting on Sunday, September 23. This past Friday, the cable giant had reached a multiyear deal to carry the NFL Network and its RedZone channel, which should be a relief to football fans who don’t have the luxury of switching pay TV providers.
Time Warner Cable was the last of the major cable providers to agree to carry the sports network, which was launched back in 2003. Subscribers can watch the NFL Network for regular season primetime games, while the RedZone channel is dedicated for recap and analysis of the past week’s games every Sunday.
Time Warner customers can catch the first live game this Thursday, which features the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns. The NFL Network is included in the Digital TV package, which includes 175 HD channels. Customers can request NFL RedZone through Time Warner’s game pass sports tier, which includes channels such as the Pac-12 Network, Big Ten Network, and the Tennis Channel.
As an added benefit, the NFL Network is broadcasting 13 primetime regular season games this year, instead of 8 games like the previous years.
The latest broadcast deal with the NFL Network comes in the wake of Time Warner’s season debut as the official local sports broadcaster for the Los Angeles area. Time Warner won the local rights to air Los Angeles Laker games, and will unveil a new English language and Spanish language network on October 1.
Because Time Warner is technically the local sports content provider in Los Angeles, other pay TV companies have to negotiate broadcast deals with them in order to include local sports coverage for their customers. This can negatively affect DirecTV customers in Los Angeles, since no deal has yet been reached with Time Warner Cable. The word is that DirecTV is not happy with Time Warner’s asking fee, and are holding out for a better deal. The last thing DirecTV wants is a customer revolt, since nobody wants to pay higher fees in such a bad economy. In any case, if DirecTV doesn’t get a deal done with Time Warner by October 7, millions of Los Angeles sports fans may get shut out from watching Laker home games.
It seems as if both pay TV providers are playing a game of chicken, waiting to see who irate sports fans will blame should an agreement fail to be reached. Hopefully cooler heads will prevail, and all sports fans—no matter which pay TV provider they’re with, can see the games they want before the season starts.