The NFL and Time Warner Cable answered the prayers of many pro football fans Friday by reaching a multi-year agreement that will put the NFL Network and the RedZone Channel on Time Warner’s programming list.
The two networks will become available to Time Warner customers Sunday, and the two parties say a “full launch” of the networks will take place before next Thursday.
Time Warner, the nation’s second-largest cable network, was the only carrier among the top five that wasn’t carrying the two NFL channels. Also reaching an agreement Friday with the NFL was Bright House Networks, the No. 6 cable carrier.
Time Warner is the cable network for most Mecklenburg County customers and for many other parts of the Charlotte region.
The NFL Network, which offers telecasts of Thursday night games and a 24/7 schedule of other NFL programming, will be available to Time Warner customers with the basic digital package. The RedZone Channel, which operates on Sundays and has live coverage of teams when they get inside the opponents’ 20-yard line, will be available to customers who subscribe to Sports Pass.
In the Carolinas, the NFL Network will be carried on channel 498 and in HD on 1498. RedZone will be on channels 499 and 1499. Digital customers who do not subscribe to Sports Pass can order the programming instantly with their remote control units and will have immediate access to Sports Pass channels.
The negotiations between the NFL and Time Warner had been protracted, with the cable carrier saying the two NFL channels were expensive and would force the cable company to raise rates to all its customers.
On it website, Time Warner said it believed “NFLN (NFL Network) appeals to only a small segment of our customers and is highly priced.” But pro football message boards have been filled in recent months with complaints from Time Warner customers who said they wanted the NFL Network.
“We’re delighted to have reached an agreement for NFL Network and NFL RedZone that provides a good value to our customers,” said Melinda Witmer, executive vice president and chief video-content officer for Time Warner Cable. “The additional games this year and the proven appeal of NFL RedZone will certainly prove to be a draw for our customers.”
NFL Network President and CEO Steve Bornstein said, “We are excited to work with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks to bring fans football 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”
The NFL Network, which was launched eight years ago, had carried a number of Thursday night games late in the season, but it expanded its coverage to 13 weeks of the season this year. Thursday night’s Carolina Panthers-New York Giants game was an NFL Network broadcast, and it was carried in the Charlotte market by WSOC because NFL rules require a local station to carry the broadcasts if the NFL Network is not available.
Next Thursday’s NFL Network game pits the Baltimore Ravens against the Cleveland Browns.
In addition to the Thursday night games, the NFL Network provides coverage of offseason scouting combines and a number of other pro football programs on a 24/7 basis. RedZone Channel airs on Sundays, showing scoring plays and other important action when teams are inside their opponents’ 20-yard lines.