Time Warner Gives Lift to C-SPAN3

C-SPAN3, which rolled out as a full-fledged network last month, received a major distribution boost last week when it won a slot on Time Warner Cable's digital platform, officials said.

The second spin-off of public-affairs network C-SPAN is expected to gain about 1.7 million Time Warner digital subscribers through its slot on Athena, the MSO's digital service. The move elevates C-SPAN3's distribution to roughly 3.1 million homes, according to officials.

That figure includes launches in many of Time Warner's major markets, such as New York City and San Diego, said C-SPAN director of affiliate relations Peter Kiley.

"It's just a tremendous commitment from [Time Warner Cable chairman] Joe Collins," said Kiley, who added that Collins is chairman of C-SPAN's executive committee.

Those Time Warner digital subscribers will be added to C-SPAN3's current base of 1.4 million analog homes. The bulk of those households are on cable systems in the Washington, D.C., DMA, which carry C-SPAN3 part-time on local access, according to Kiley.

Cox Communications Inc. carries C-SPAN3 on analog in some Rhode Island systems. Some Bresnan Communications systems that were acquired by Charter Communications Inc. also offer it on analog.

C-SPAN 3 is the expanded version of C-SPAN Extreme, which debuted in 1997. It broadcast from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday with a limited lineup of live and taped political events as an adjunct to C-SPAN's gavel-to-gavel House of Representatives coverage and C-SPAN2's coverage of the U.S. Senate.

But on Jan. 22, C-SPAN Extreme was transformed into C-SPAN3, which offers live coverage of Washington-based political events Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. On nights and weekends, the network now offers long-form history programming from C-SPAN's library.

For example, at 10 p.m. C-SPAN3 runs episodes of C-SPAN chairman Brian Lamb's Booknotes
that deals with historical tomes. That is being followed by a series, called Bus Travels, comprised of vignettes filmed during C-SPAN's nationwide bus tour.

And one of the network's late-night shows is Profiles, which looks at political and government figures.

The core network C-SPAN now reaches 79.4 million subscribers, while C-SPAN2 is in 60.7 million households.

On Time Warner, C-SPAN3 takes over a berth that was set aside for CNBC2. NBC Cable is planing to roll out that digital network, which will include programming and content from CNBC Asia and Europe, CNBC.com and lengthier interviews with CEOs.

But that service's launch has been delayed several times, and it still isn't up and running. As a result, Time Warner had been simulcasting the CNBC feed on CNBC2's digital slot.

"We felt we didn't want to continue running a simulcast," Time Warner Cable spokesman Mike Luftman said. "We got some calls from customers, who want something additional on digital."

CNBC2 is now slated to launch this summer, according to NBC Cable president David Zaslav.

"We're looking at all the choices we have in the business-news genre," he said. "We're trying to figure out the right mix."