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Information on Cable, Digital Television, and Internet Providers

Monthly Archives: September 2012

NFL SUNDAY TICKET Week 4 Schedule

The NFL season is heating up, and the only way to get every game, every Sunday is with NFL SUNDAY TICKET, exclusively available from DIRECTV. Watch up to eight games at once with the NFL MIX channel, or upgrade to SUNDAY TICKET MAX to be able to watch the RED ZONE CHANNEL, which shows every scoring drive of every game.

There are plenty of good, interesting matchups this week, especially after the surprises that came in Week 3, with favorite teams like the New England Patriots and the New Orleans Saints showing records far below their potential, and other teams, like the Arizona Cardinals and Atlanta Falcons, impressing with big wins over tough opponents.

Here is the channel lineup for Week 4:

  • Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons – 1pm – Channel 704
  • Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions – 1pm – Channel 705
  • San Francisco 49ers at New York Jets – 1pm – Channel 706
  • Seattle Seahawks at St. Louis Rams – 1pm – Channel 707
  • New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills – 1pm – Channel 708
  • Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans – 1pm – Channel 709
  • San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs – 1pm – Channel 710
  • Miami Dolphins at Arizona Cardinals – 4pm – Channel 711
  • Cincinnati Bengals at Jacksonville Jaguars – 4pm – Channel 712
  • Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos – 4pm – Channel 713
  • New Orleans Saints at Green Bay Packers – 4pm – Channel 714
  • Washington Redskins at Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 4pm – Channel 715
  • All times Eastern time

Our Game to Watch: San Francisco 49ers at New York Jets. The 49ers, coming into Week 3 as the most dominant team in the NFL and a Super Bowl favorite, were stunned by the Vikings, who beat the Niners at their own run-and-defense based game. The 49ers will try to get back their momentum against the Jets in New York, facing a team who barely managed to eke out an overtime win against the Miami Dolphins. Both teams are 2-1 and big things were expected before the season. Let’s see how this one turns out.

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NFL Network Now on Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks

Last week, the National Football League and Time Warner Cable, one of the largest cable providers in the United States, ended a nine-year dispute over the carriage of the NFL Network, the league’s flagship cable channel. People in areas served by Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks no longer need to subscribe to DIRECTV to get the NFL Network and the Red Zone Channel, which are now available on Time Warner and Bright House cable packages in time for tonight’s game between the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens. Financial terms from the contract have not been disclosed by either the NFL or Time Warner, Inc.

Time Warner is the second largest cable provider in the United States, and Bright House is the sixth largest. Combined, NFL Network has entered millions of new homes. The Network has been up and running and broadcasting Thursday night football games for nine years, and Time Warner and Bright House customers have, until this point, never been able to access this channel.

Beyond the Thursday Night Football games, of which there will be 13 total this season, NFL Network broadcasts old NFL Films footage, Fantasy Football strategy programs, and 24 hours a day of NFL-related shows, from weekend recaps to game previews and everything in between. Just a month ago, NFL Network also came to an agreement with Cablevision.

With Time Warner, NFL Network will be available on digital basic cable, with the Red Zone channel on the additional Sports Pass tier, which also includes channels like the NHL Network and the Tennis Channel.

NFL fans who are already Time Warner and Bright House customers should be happy with the move, but customers who are already DIRECTV subscribers in those areas will likely remain with the satellite company, as DIRECTV is still the only company holding rights to broadcast NFL SUNDAY TICKET.

Big Ten Network and DISH Network Come to Agreement

Satellite TV users will not have to use DIRECTV to watch the Big Ten Network, now that DISH Network has come to an agreement with the college conference associated sports channel. A statement released on September 22 confirms the return of BTN to the DISH Network channel lineup. The statement does not clarify if this is a long term agreement or a short term extension, or if the Big Ten Network will be available on basic packages or remain part of a higher-end sports tier.

The deal came in time for college football’s biggest day, Saturday, and allowed fans of Big Ten teams across the country to watch their teams’ college football matchups. DISH moved forward quickly to avoid further subscriber losses. DISH now has an advantage over the more popular DIRECTV when it comes to collegiate sports, because DISH has come to an agreement with the Pac-12 Network ahead of DIRECTV, who is digging in for a prolonged battle against the new West Coast based college sports channel. Because of this move by DISH, the Pac-12 Networks now may hold an advantage in negotiations with DIRECTV because of DISH’s new variety in college sports programming.

DIRECTV is still the leading satellite television provider in the United States, and the second-biggest provider of pay TV overall, but DISH coming to terms with both of these college sports networks shows initiative and an attempt to chip away at the DIRECTV subscriber base. AMC and DISH still have yet to reach an agreement, though, and with The Walking Dead returning to the screen, it’s unlikely many DIRECTV subscribers will make the switch just yet. If DISH can come to terms with AMC, though, DIRECTV may actually have a problem on their hands.

Holding viewers hostage as a negotiation tactic is wearing thin, especially after a summer where many disputes lost viewership for a number of popular programs across a number of networks.

Chicago to Introduce Free Wi-Fi, Ultra High Speed Internet

According to Crain’s Chicago Business, Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago is unveiling the first portion of a plan to position Chicago for the digital age, expanding access within the city to ultra high speed internet via broadband. The high speed internet plan, called the Broadband Challenge, will partner the city government with private enterprises to bring low cost, gigabit speed internet to 15 emerging business zones in the city, centered on academic centers outside of the main Chicago Loop, as well as offering free Wi-Fi access in every City Park. In order to lure these private enterprises, the city will lease its own infrastructure, including unused fiber lines in Chicago Transit Authority subway tunnels, on favorable terms.

The program’s announcement comes with immediate action: free Wi-Fi will be available throughout Millennium Park from SilverIP Communications, a local company claiming to offer the fastest internet service in the United States. The goal of the whole project is to make Chicago one of the most connected cities in the whole world.

As it stands now, the plan has yet to be funded, and is more of a proposal than something that is guaranteed to happen. The city will not be making any financial commitment through tax money to the program other than the property and assets it already has and is willing to leverage, such as the unused CTA wire lines. The goal is to offer fast internet to areas of the city where startups can find cheap rent, such as the Randolph Market area in the West Loop. Other areas being considered are Bucktown, Wicker Park, Ravenswood Industrial Corridor, McCormick Place, Loyola University, and the Illinois Medical District and Illinois Institute of Technology.

Such initiatives have worked in smaller cities, but this is the first time a major American city of Chicago’s size has attempted such a move. Hopefully, if it is successful, others will follow suit.

NFL SUNDAY TICKET Week 3 Schedule

NFL Week 2 opened with the Green Bay Packers silencing the doubters and the rival Chicago Bears with a solid defensive display and flashes of offensive and special teams brilliance (including a fake field goal). NFL SUNDAY TICKET from DIRECTV brings you all the rest of the games this Sunday. Here are the games available for watching this upcoming Sunday, 9/23. Your Week 3 schedule and channel lineup is here.

  • St. Louis Rams at Chicago Bears – 1pm – Channel 704
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys – 1pm – Channel 705
  • San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings – 1pm – Channel 706
  • Detroit Lions at Tennessee Titans – 1pm – Channel 707
  • Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns – 1pm – Channel 708
  • Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts – 1pm – Channel 709
  • New York Jets at Miami Dolphins – 1pm – Channel 710
  • Kansas City Chiefs at New Orleans Saints – 1pm – Channel 711
  • Cincinnati Bengals at Washington Redskins – 1pm – Channel 712
  • Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals – 4pm – Channel 713
  • Atlanta Falcons at San Diego Chargers – 4pm – Channel 714
  • Houston Texans at Denver Broncos – 4pm – Channel 715
  • Pittsburgh Steelers at Oakland Raiders – 4pm – Channel 716
  • All times Eastern time

Our Game to Watch: Texans at Broncos. Peyton Manning faces the team he owned as quarterback of the Colts for many years, and now that they are a defensive and offensive powerhouse, the Texans have their chance for revenge. But Peyton, looking almost as good as ever and much better than can be expected after a fused spine and a year off of football, has other ideas. This should be a good matchup of differing styles and a solid game to lead off the late slate of games.

Don’t forget to also take advantage of the NFL SUNDAY TICKET Fantasy Football App, the player tracker, the Mix Channel and the NFL RED ZONE Channel to make the most of your NFL SUNDAY TICKET package from DIRECTV. And if you don’t have DIRECTV, don’t fret: you can still get NFL SUNDAY TICKET by signing up with DIRECTV and receiving the best football package free for 2012.

Time Warner Cable Holds Lakers Games Hostage

Time Warner Cable, Inc., the largest cable provider for the greater Los Angeles Metropolitan Area, is holding one of the biggest bargaining chips in local programming in its hands: the rights for local broadcast of Los Angeles Lakers games. By far the most popular local sports franchise, the Lakers are big money for whoever holds the broadcasting key. Now, Time Warner has outbid Fox Sports for the rights to air Lakers games locally, and as it stands right now, heading toward an October 1 deadline, the only people in Los Angeles who will be able to view the games are Time Warner’s two million subscribers.

Lakers games this year, beyond the national broadcasts that will air on TNT, ESPN and ABC, will run on the new Time Warner SportsNet, which debuts October 1 and is centered around Lakers coverage, with coverage of the LA Galaxy professional soccer team as its backup programming. The other pay TV providers in the area refused to carry this new channel, not wanting to pay Time Warner for a channel that has never existed before; now their customers will be without Laker basketball this year unless something changes.

The something probably will, at least for the other largest provider in the area, DIRECTV. DIRECTV holds somewhat of a position of power as it would be able to pay the most in rights fees for the new network, which Time Warner will need to offset the cost of the Lakers rights acquisition. DIRECTV has about 1.3 million subscribers in the Lakers market. Time Warner assumes once DIRECTV comes on board, the others will have to for fear of losing their customer bases to the two heavyweights in the region.

My prediction: by tipoff of the first regular season game, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, and everyone else will be on screen throughout the Los Angeles area.

DIRECTV Need Not Back Down to Pac-12 Network Demands

A chart provided by AwfulAnnouncing.com, a sports blog that often covers the disputes between cable sports networks and cable TV providers and satellite TV providers provides some interesting information: namely, that DIRECTV is second in the entire United States in subscribership, behind only Comcast Corporation. The satellite TV powerhouse is now one of the big boys, which is what gives it the power to push around smaller niche cable networks, such as is going on with the Pac-12 Networks right now.

DIRECTV’s major coup has been its exclusive hold on the NFL SUNDAY TICKET package, There’s no other option available for hardcore professional football fans. DIRECTV also has a very vast channel lineup, and tends to have much better customer service than the cable companies that have monopolies over cable service in given areas.

Here are the top 10 pay TV providers in the United States, along with their subscriber numbers:

  1. Comcast Corporation – 22,294,000
  2. DIRECTV – 19.966,000
  3. Dish Network Corporation – 14,071,000
  4. Time Warner Cable, Inc. – 12,653,000
  5. Cox Communications, Inc. – 4,756,000
  6. Verizon Communications, Inc. – 4,353,000
  7. Charter Communications, Inc. – 4,341,000
  8. AT&T, Inc. – 3,991,000
  9. Cablevision Systems Corporation – 3, 257,000
  10. Bright House Networks LLC – 2,079,000

The sports blog presents these numbers to show that DIRECTV is alone among the top providers in not coming to an agreement with the Pac-12 Networks, and that DIRECTV should back down in its hard stance to make the Pac-12 price come down. The truth of the matter is, though, that DIRECTV is the one in the position of power right now. They made Viacom, a much larger entertainment corporation, back down earlier this year after about ten days of outages for channels like MTV, VH1, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.

Bottom line: people across the United States are not going to switch providers because of the Pac-12 Networks, especially when the most high-profile college football games will air on ESPN/ABC anyway.

Cable TV Programming Still Big During Fall Network Push

Fall is normally the time when the networks make their big push to get viewers back on board after the summer lull, but some of cable television’s biggest and best programming is making a return this fall as well. Check out just a few of the best premium and basic cable television programs that will have new seasons this fall:

Boardwalk Empire, Sundays on HBO: This Prohibition-era gangster drama has picked up steam from a slow first season and now begins its third. Steve Buscemi is great as the head of a great ensemble cast, playing gangster Nucky Thompson (is there a more Prohibition-era gangster name than Nucky Thompson?).

Treme, Sundays on HBO: The New Orleans-set drama is not a ratings success, but it is critically acclaimed and has a loyal following, much like the predecessor series from creator David Simon, The Wire.

Dexter, Sundays on Showtime: The heroic serial killer show has gotten worse and worse with each season after its peak in Season Two. Now entering its seventh season, it’s definitely past its sell-by date, but it’s a ratings hit and a big victory for Showtime, no matter how ridiculous the show gets.

Homeland, Sundays on Showtime: Last year’s breakout cable drama enters its second season, the story of a former CIA agent who’s sure a former prisoner of war who’s a double agent for the enemy.

The Walking Dead, Sundays on AMC: As long as the zombie craze keeps going, people will continue watching this hit from AMC, the biggest show on basic cable.

American Horror Story, Wednesdays on FX: Criticially reviled, this horror show was a big hit last year. Creator Ryan Murphy brings a second season that tells a whole new story with some of the same actors playing different roles.

Be sure to check your local listings as to when these shows air.

Joe Namath Quarterbacks New High Speed Internet in South Florida

OMGFast, a new high speed internet service, is now available in parts of South Florida, delivering speeds of 50 MBPs or higher, as fast as it gets for either fiber or coaxial broadband internet speeds. According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, OMGFast (which stands for Oh My Gosh, Fast) has quite the pair of celebrity endorsers already: Hall of Fame Jets quarterback Joe Namath and his daughter Jessica, both of whom call the small town of Jupiter, FL home.

OMGFast competes with larger internet service providers in the area by offering the highest speeds, but thus far the service is only available in a few parts of South Florida. The company is based in Pompano Beach and so far services Margate, Coral Springs, Tamarac, and some areas of West Boca Raton. OMGFast is not just an internet service provider, though; the company also operates the largest footprint for multichannel video and data distribution service in the country. OMGFast plans to continue to expand throughout Broward and Palm Beach counties throughout 2012 and 2013.

OMGFast is just the latest in a line of smaller companies attempting to get into the mix to take advantage of customer dissatisfaction with larger internet providers. The difficulty these smaller companies face is that they do not have a built-in infrastructure of fiber optic cables, as many cable television providers who got into the internet business and took it over already did. Companies like OMGFast must expand slowly in order to succeed. The cynic in an observer might also see these attempts as pushes to get acquired by larger companies for a start-up cashout. There are worse ways to make money than being bought out by your frightened competitor.

Check back to learn about other new high speed internet service providers cropping up throughout the country on the TV, Internet and Phone Blog.

NFL SUNDAY TICKET Week 2 Schedule

The first week of games brought some surprises to those who subscribe to NFL SUNDAY TICKET from DIRECTV, with Robert Griffin III impressing in his pro debut, Andrew Luck disappointing, the New York Jets shocking the Bills with an offensive display that puts all memories of preseason ineptitude to shame, and more. Here are the games available for watching this upcoming Sunday, 9/16. Your Week 2 schedule and channel lineup is here.

  • New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers – 1pm – Channel 704
  • Minnesota Vikings at Indianapolis Colts – 1pm – Channel 705
  • Arizona Cardinals at New England Patriots – 1pm – Channel 706
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Giants – 1pm – Channel 707
  • Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills – 1pm – Channel 708
  • Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals – 1pm – Channel 709
  • Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars – 1pm – Channel 710
  • Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins – 1pm – Channel 711
  • Baltimore Ravens at Philadelphia Eagles – 1pm – Channel 712
  • Washington Redskins at St. Louis Rams – 4pm – Channel 713
  • Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks – 4pm – Channel 714
  • New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers – 4pm – Channel 715
  • Tennessee Titans at San Diego Charters – 4pm – Channel 716
  • All times Eastern time

Our Game to Watch: Today’s game to watch comes in the later time slot, with the Jets, coming off a big-time win over the Bills, heading to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers, who suffered an opening week loss at the hands of the Denver Broncos and the revitalized Peyton Manning. Both teams should have tough defenses, but the real surprise might be how good the Jets’ offense is, and the fact that the Steelers really are looking their age.

Take advantage of the RED ZONE Channel, the Mix Channel, and more with NFL SUNDAY TICKET, only available on DIRECTV.