Comcast Renews Rainbow Nets

Comcast Corp. signed a long-term carriage deal for Rainbow Media Holdings Inc.’s AMC and extended affiliate deals for regional sports networks Fox Sports Net Bay Area, FSN Florida and FSN New England, Rainbow said.

The three sports regionals will soon distribute all home games of the pro-sports teams they carry in high-definition format, Rainbow said.

Rainbow -- a unit of MSO Cablevision Systems Corp. -- and Comcast said in a release that they wouldn’t reveal other contract terms.

It has been speculated that Comcast -- which owns three regional sports networks in other markets -- also has designs on owning the FSN regionals included in this carriage deal. Rainbow owns a majority stake in all three and manages them, while News Corp.’s FSN owns minority stakes.

Comcast recently backed a new regional sports network in Chicago in partnership with the owners of that city’s top pro-sports teams. The MSO will own 30% of that network, set to launch this year in competition with FSN Chicago, which has been severely undermined by the loss of the pro-sports games.

Wednesday’s news release included quotes from Matt Bond, executive vice president of programming at Comcast, the top U.S. MSO.

"We're pleased to have reached this agreement with Rainbow Media to continue to offer our customers compelling content from AMC and the Fox Sports networks," Bond said. "We're particularly excited about the opportunity to offer additional value for our customers with the addition of all home professional games in HDTV for the three Fox regional sports networks."