Verizon, Cablevision Customers Lose Access to Tennis Channel

Customers of Cablevision Systems Corp. (CVC) and Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ)’s FiOS pay-TV service lost access to the Tennis Channel today amid a fee dispute, causing them to miss some coverage of the U.S. Open tournament.

Tennis Channel pulled its signal early today, Jim Maiella, a spokesman for Cablevision, said in an e-mailed statement. He declined to say whether the company plans to negotiate a new agreement with Tennis Channel after their contract expired. Verizon is trying to negotiate a new deal with Tennis Channel, Kevin Laverty, a spokesman for the New York-based carrier, said in an interview.

The blackout means the customers will miss some coverage of the sport’s only U.S. grand slam event, which includes players such as Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Both Cablevision and Verizon customers can still watch CBS and ESPN’s coverage of the tournament, which is scheduled to run through Sept. 11.

Tennis Channel asked for “significantly higher” fees, Maiella said. He said Cablevision customers can see “every important U.S. Open match” on ESPN, CBS and through an online service.

Cablevision didn’t agree to new contract guidelines and “has chosen to drop Tennis Channel,” according to an e-mailed statement from Eric Abner, a spokesman for Tennis Channel.

Verizon’s FiOS had about 3.8 million TV subscribers as of June 30, and Bethpage, New York-based Cablevision had about 3.3 million such customers. Both trail larger pay-TV providers including Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable Inc., DirecTV and Dish Network Corp.

The closely held Tennis Channel, based in Santa Monica, California, is owned by investors that include Apollo Partners and Bain Capital Ventures, as well as Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras, according to the company’s website.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Sherman in New York at asherman6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ville Heiskanen at vheiskanen@bloomberg.net

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