CSN Northwest Dunks Charter Distribution Contract

Larry Eldridge, general manager of Comcast SportsNet Northwest, hopes the regional sports network’s distribution deal with Charter Communications will spur affiliate accords with a couple of other long-term holdouts.  

The deal will place CSN Northwest -- the cable home on the National Basketball Association’s Portland Trail Blazers -- on Charter’s expanded basic digital level of service, starting on Sept. 17. The digital service will be positioned on channel 427, while its high-definition version will be located on channel 827.

The RSN, which tipped off in 2007, has yet to secure carriage with DirecTV and Dish Network.

With next month’s rollout, Charter will join Comcast, which owns the channel, Ashland TV, Beaver Creek Telcom, Bend Broadband, Frontier Communications, MiNet Fiber, Monroe Telephone, Oregon Cable/Reliance Connects, Scio Cablevision and Wave Broadband on the RSN’s distribution roster. It is also slated to bow on Canby Telcom in September.

Charter would not disclose the number of customers that will gain access to CSN Northwest, but a spokesman said the MSO operates systems serving customers in 150 communities in coastal, southern, central and eastern Oregon and parts of Washington.

Financial terms were not disclosed. The Charter spokesman said the deal was “a result of a lot of behind-the-scenes negotiations in which we were finally able to agree to terms that we are comfortable with. We’re happy our customer will get to see the Blazers’ games.

Eldridge, who became general manager of CSN Northwest about a month ago after serving in a similar capacity at CSN California, downplayed his role in the resolution.”This has been an ongoing process of hard work by affiliate team over the past six years,” he said. “My arrival is merely fortuitous timing.”

He thinks the Charter contract could help drive agreements with DirecTV and Dish. “There are always ongoing talks between [NBCUniversal and NBC Sports Groups and the DBS providers] on many fronts,” he said. “You hope the Charter deal can serve as a trigger point.”

In addition to 60 Blazers games and attendant team fare, Eldridge said the RSN has expanded its shoulder programming around the University of Oregon Ducks and Oregon State Beavers. With a new studio base in a former NBC station facility, CSNNW is also looking to expand its original programming roster over the next year, he said.