Cablevision and NBCUniversal sign distribution deal
Cablevision Systems Corp. has signed a long-term distribution deal to carry broadcast and cable networks owned by Comcast’s NBCUniversal unit.
The agreement includes broadcast networks NBC and Telemundo as well as cable channels USA, Bravo, MSNBC, CNBC and NBC Sports Network. Cablevision has more than 3 million subscribers, primarily in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
The NBCUniversal accord is Cablevision’s third in recent months with a major content supplier. It has also signed agreements with CBS and Walt Disney Co. All the deals were reached without customers losing any signals, which often happens during these negotiations, including when Cablevision and News Corp. had a particularly nasty feud a few years ago.
For NBC, beefing up its revenue from distribution of its NBC network is key. NBCUniversal Chief Executive Steve Burke said earlier this fall that NBC “essentially makes no money on retransmission consent.” By comparison, CBS has said it expects that by 2016 it will take in $1 billion in both fees from pay-TV distributors as well as from the network’s own local TV station partners in return for carrying their content.
According to SNL Kagan, an industry consulting firm, CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox and local broadcasters will take in $2.36 billion in so-called retransmission consent fees in 2012. By 2018 that figure is expected to top $6 billion.
The rising fees for broadcast stations come as the price for cable programming also continues to climb, primarily because of sports. Disney’s ESPN is more than $5 per-subscriber, per-month. Regional sports networks are also very expensive. Time Warner Cable’s new Los Angeles channel SportsNet, which has rights to the Los Angeles Lakers, costs close to $4 per-subscriber, per-month.
Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.
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