Blue Ridge Communications is the latest distributor to ink an affiliate deal for the new NFL Red Zone service.
Blue Ridge, which counts some 175,000 video customers in Pennsylvania and New York, will position NFL Red Zone as part of its HD Plus package, kicking off Sept. 13, when the service will showcase all of the scoring plays from around the pro football's league's Sunday afternoon games.
Officials at Blue Ridge, which earlier this month signed a comprehensive new media deal as part of its renewal with YES, the regional sports network that televises New York Yankees games, said the pact was an add-on to its existing deal with NFL Network. Deal terms were not disclosed.
"The NFL RedZone is a great addition to our expanding High Definition lineup," said Mark Masenheimer, vice president of pperations, Blue Ridge Communications, in a statement "With the NFL Network, NFL On Demand and now the NFL RedZone, football fans have lots of programming options."
The positioning will presumably drive Blue Ridge's HD Plus tier, which currently includes HD Net Movies, Palladia HD, Universal HD, MGM HD, Smithsonian HD and National Geographic HD, for $12.95 monthly.
It also marks the third different game plan for the service. Both Comcast and Dish Network are adding NFL RedZone to their sports tiers, while Verizon FiOS is making the service available for a full, 17-week season subscription price of $49.99.
NFL Network also said it has reached agreement with a number of other smaller operators for carriage of NFL RedZone.
However, it doesn't appear that Time Warner Cable will be joining its distribution roster for the linear channel or the ad hoc network any time soon.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on a chat on NFL.com Tuesday to help kick off the season, which begins tonight with the defending champion Pittsburgh Steelers hosting the Tennessee Titans, responded to a query about NFL Network and the No. 2 cable operator thusly:
"We are extremely disappointed ... that Time Warner is unwilling to reach an agreement to carry the NFL Network on terms that are fair and reasonable and consistent with other distributors," Goodell said. "We don't expect to reach a deal with them prior to the start of the NFL Network season. We have deals with hundreds of other distributors including four of the top five largest distributors. We are surprised that Time Warner continues to reject our offers and deny the fans the only network dedicated entirely to football, as well as the exciting new NFL RedZone channel that we are launching this season."
NFL Network's eight-game primetime slate begins Nov. 12 with the Chicago Bears facing the San Francisco 49ers.
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