By Barry Janoff
August 25, 2013: The dispute between CBS and Time Warner Cable, which began three weeks ago and is centered around programming fees, is now going to court. Not the judicial kind, but the courts that will be used at the upcoming U.S. Open.
Time Warner Cable said it has signed a multi-year deal with the U.S. Tennis Assn. to become an official sponsor of the U.S. Open. This comes on the heels of Time Warner Cable offering its digital customers a free feed of U.S. Open programming on Tennis Channel in the areas being blacked out due to the dispute.
Major areas being impacted include Los Angeles, Dallas and New York, the latter the home of the U.S. Open. Showtime and other CBS-owned stations have also been hit. More than three million subscribers are involved, according to Time Warner Cable.
CBS has about 40 hours of coverage scheduled, led by exclusive broadcasts of the men's and women's singles finals and the men's, women's and mixed-doubles finals, all of which are among the most-watched events of the Open.
Also on the line: CBS' coverage of the NFL, which begins Sept. 9.
CBS Sports Network, which Time Warner Cable said is not impacted by the situation, has about 20 hours of coverage. Tennis Channel, available in about 35 million homes, has more than 200 hours of coverage planned, including 75 hours of live coverage.
ESPN, which beginning in 2015 takes over broadcast rights from CBS to the semi-finals and finals, is televising about 20 hours. More than 200 U.S. Open matches will also be available for free on www.USOpen.org.
Under its new alliance with the USTA, Time Warner Cable will have plenty of opportunity to support its brand and messaging during the course of the Open, which runs Aug. 26-Sept. 9.
TWC said that marketing would include broadcast advertising on "select U.S. Open platforms and properties," on-court signage such as branding on the umpires chairs, signage throughout the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (site of the US Open) and title sponsorship of the Time Warner Cable Experience, an on-site activation space anchored by a six-court FanVision video wall.
"Our partnership with USTA aligns with our 'Enjoy Sports Better' brand experience, giving customers even more opportunities to show their passion as sports fans,” Jeffrey Hirsch, evp/CMO-residential services for Time Warner Cable, said in a statement. “We couldn’t be happier to bring them closer to the excitement and action of every serve, ace and winner of the U.S. Open."
According to Mike Angus, GM-video for Time Warner Cable, “We appreciate our customers’ patience as we work to resolve the blackout with CBS. We know the US Open is popular programming. We’re pleased to be able to offer additional programming via Tennis Channel to customers affected by this dispute. A lot of the matches will also still be available to customers via ESPN2 and CBS Sports Network.”
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