The National Football League reached an agreement with Cablevision Systems Corp. to carry the league-owned NFL Network and RedZone channel.
The deal between the most-watched U.S. sports league and the New York-area cable television operator leaves Time Warner Cable Inc. as the only major cable provider without the NFL Network.
Financial terms of the multiyear agreement weren’t disclosed in a joint statement from the NFL and Bethpage, New York-based Cablevision. The NFL Network debuts in Cablevision homes today.
“It’s very important for the NFL,” cable TV consultant Lee Berke said in a telephone interview. “It shows that the NFL is methodically pulling together all the major distributors and has not given up equity or management control to an outside media company. They own it all.”
Berke said he expects the league and Time Warner to reach agreement sooner rather than later.
Time Warner spokeswoman Maureen Huff said negotiations continue, and the cable operator wants an agreement to be reached.
“But we have been close before only to have it fall apart, so we need to be cautious about predicting success,” she said.
The league and Time Warner aren’t talking, Brian Rolapp, chief operating officer of NFL Media, said during a conference call with reporters.
“As a result, we’re obviously not close,” he said.
NFL Network airs 13 primetime regular-season games. RedZone is a game-day network that shows touchdowns and important plays inside the 20-yard line. NFL Network shows its first regular-season game of the year on Sept. 13, when Chicago visits Green Bay. NFL Network’s broadcast schedule contains one game involving a New York-area team, the Giants at Carolina on Sept. 20.
The NFL season begins Sept. 5 with the Dallas Cowboys visiting the Super Bowl champion Giants.
Cablevision shares fell 31 cents to $15.06.