Big News for Time Warner Cable

Time Warner Cable has set its special meeting for shareholders to vote on the planned merger with Charter Communications, according to Forbes Magazine. Shareholders of record as of July 28 will be allowed to cast votes on the merger plans. As a result, Charter is organizing a similar, separate vote that same day. The deal can only be completed if it is approved by a majority of each company’s shareholders—this outcome is likely, as it will help both companies compete in a landscape where other pay-TV giants, such as DIRECTV and AT&T, are also consolidating.

More from Forbes:

Time Warner Cable and Charter had announced last May that they had entered into a definitive agreement to merge. Charter is a leading internet communications company and the fourth-largest cable operator in the U.S. The deal values Time Warner Cable’s stock at $195.71/share, which gives the company an enterprise value of $78.7 billion. Charter will provide $100 in cash and the rest in shares of a new public parent company, tentatively called “New Charter,” for each Time Warner Cable share outstanding. Charter had earlier agreed to buy Bright House Networks and the Syracuse-based company will also be a part of New Charter. The deal is currently under review by the FCC and the companies expect the deal to close by the end of the year.

Time Warner Cable’s stock gained around 1% over the week through Thursday. We currently have a price estimate of $198 for Time Warner Cable. For the year 2015, we estimate revenues of $23.7 billion, in line with the consensus estimate, and EPS of $6.86, compared to a consensus estimate of $6.61.

The proposed deal with bring both companies territories they’ve never had before, and will expand the influence of both on the market as both cable TV and broadband internet providers.

Cable TV History Made on ESPN Last Night

Last night, ESPN made cable TV history, with its Monday Night Baseball broadcast featuring a female lead analyst for the first time ever. It might not seem like a big deal at first, but the fact that it has never happened before, until now, shows what a big deal it was.

The analyst role on ESPN’s sports broadcasts is usually filled by an ex-player of the sport that’s being covered, or at the very least a former coach in that sport. There have been some female play-by-play announcers, most notably Doris Burke covering the NBA, but for the most part it’s a boys’ club, with women analysts only covering women’s sports, and not the higher profile men’s broadcasts.

No longer. Jessica Mendoza, an analyst on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight program, acted as the analyst on ESPN’s game between the Diamondbacks and Cardinals, replacing Aaron Boone, the usual analyst, who is currently working games at the Little League World Series in Williamsport. Early reviews are very positive, outside of the usual internet trolls and negative commenters.

Jessica Mendoza does have on-field experience—she was a member of the women’s Olympic Softball teams for the United States in Athens and Beijing, winning gold and silver medals respectively. She is tough talking and can hang with the guys, but brings a different perspective, having never been a Major League Baseball player.

More from Awful Announcing:

With Boone not available this week, ESPN needed a replacement, and Mendoza was as fine of an in-house choice as any. There’s nothing wrong with giving hard-working people at the network a shot at a more expanded role, and Mendoza has the credentials both on and off the field to deliver a strong performance in the booth.

Here’s hoping this was not an anomaly, and that Jessica is the first of many women to bring new blood to the announcing booth for ESPN, and other cable TV sports networks.

DIRECTV Ready TVs Available Now

The increase in smart television technology now allows DIRECTV customers to use RVU technology to use certain televisions with DIRECTV programming without a receiver as part of a DIRECTV Genie HD DVR setup. These DIRECTV Ready TVs use a small device called Genie Mini to access the Genie HD DVR.

According to DIRECTV’s website, these are the only currently available DIRECTV Ready TVs:

Brand Year Models
Samsung 2011 D6000, D6400, D6420
2012, 2013 All Smart TVs
2014 All Smart TVs
Excluding: 5201, 5203, 6201, and 6203 series
2015 J6300, J5500, J550D, J630D
Sony 2013 Sony BRAVIA R550A and R520A series
2014 Sony Bravia KDL-60R510A
Toshiba 2014 55L7400U
LG 2014 LB7200, LB7100, LB6500, LB6300, EC9300

As long as you make sure you have the latest TV firmware for the above models, you’ll be able to access DIRECTV programming on your smart TV. You can use your Genie remote or the DIRECTV Ready TV’s remote.

NBA Saturday Night Coverage Moves from Cable to Broadcast TV

Over the past few years, since Disney (ESPN and ABC) and Turner Sports (NBATV and TNT) have taken over the broadcast rights to the National Basketball Association, primetime games have been banished to cable TV, with only Sunday afternoons featuring games on ABC during the regular season. This year, though, the announcement of the NBA schedule brought with it some surprises—namely, the inclusion of several primetime games airing on ABC on Saturday nights. Saturday night games used to be the province of NBATV, and often featured less interesting matchups. When you look at the schedule below, you’ll see that these games are anything but uninteresting:

From Awful Announcing:

Sat, Jan. 23 8:30 p.m. Chicago Bulls at Cleveland Cavaliers
Sat, Jan. 30 8:30 p.m. San Antonio Spurs at Cleveland Cavaliers
Sat, Feb. 20 8:30 p.m. Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Clippers
Sat, Feb. 27 8:30 p.m. Golden State Warriors at Oklahoma City Thunder
Sat, Mar. 5 8:30 p.m. Houston Rockets at Chicago Bulls
Sat, Mar. 12 8:30 p.m. Oklahoma City Thunder at San Antonio Spurs
Sat, Mar. 19 8:30 p.m. Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs
Sat, Apr. 9 8:30 p.m. Cleveland Cavaliers at Chicago Bulls

These Saturday night matchups feature Lebron James, Derrick Rose, the new-look Spurs with LaMarcus Aldridge, last year’s champs in the Golden State Warriors, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and the up and coming Houston Rockets. Star power is the name of the game.

Saturday night isn’t traditionally a big TV night, but these games will likely draw a lot of eyeballs, especially among a sports public withdrawing after the end of college football. We’ll see if this move brings the kind of jolt that ESPN/Disney needs.

NFL Sunday Ticket Will No Longer Require Satellite TV

One of the major draws of the DIRECTV satellite pay TV service throughout the past decade or so has been NFL Sunday Ticket, the package bringing every NFL game, every Sunday of the regular season, into the homes of DIRECTV subscribers. Now that AT&T has purchased DIRECTV, the now mammoth pay TV provider is providing another option to get NFL Sunday Ticket for those who are incapable of installing a satellite dish at their place of residence, including those who live in college dorms, apartments, and condominiums.

The new service, called NFLSUNDAYTICKET.TV, will bring the action to non-subscribers, and is actually an expansion of a smaller program that offered similar service to those unable to install a dish on a smaller scale. Here’s more from AT&T:

“Millions of people in apartments and houses in the U.S. who were unable to install DIRECTV satellite dishes can now enjoy every out-of-market game, every Sunday afternoon on their favorite mobile and connected devices,” said Alex Kaplan, senior vice president, Marketing for DIRECTV, part of the AT&T family.  “More NFL fans than ever before will be able to access NFLSUNDAYTICKET.TV service and follow their favorite teams and players.”

NFLSUNDAYTICKET.TV packages start at $49.99 a month for four months, and offer a variety of services (features vary according to the varying packages), including live out-of-market NFL games every Sunday afternoon, accessible via computers, tablets, smartphones or popular connected devices – including Xbox One, Xbox 360, Sony PS3, Sony PS4, Roku and Chromecast. NFLSUNDAYTICKET.TV MAX also provides access to the popular RED ZONE CHANNEL and DIRECTV FANTASY ZONE, an exclusive live channel entirely devoted to fantasy footballEntering its second seasonDIRECTV FANTASY ZONE gives game-to-game fantasy analysis and real-time stats, highlights, projections and key player updates powered by Fantasy Football.

A special student version of NFLSUNDAYTICKET.TV U offers all premium features and benefits available in NFLSUNDAYTICKET.TV MAX at a very “student-friendly” price of only $24.99/month for four months.

It appears cutting the cord is getting even easier for sports fans!

NFL Preseason Begins this Weekend on TV: Schedule and More

Between fantasy football, gambling, the Super Bowl, the NFL Draft, and more, the National Football League has become a year-round sport, with coverage wide and varied even beyond the regular season and playoffs between September and February. The Draft has happened, along with free agency, and training camp has begun, and this weekend we’ll finally see some players on the field with the beginning of the NFL Preseason. The NFL/Hall of Fame Game happens Sunday, August 9th, between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings, airing on NBC.

Here are the games that will be nationally televised on broadcast and cable TV:

Pittsburgh vs. Minnesota (NBC, Aug 9)
Buffalo at Cleveland (ESPN, Aug. 20)
St. Louis at Tennessee (FOX, Aug. 23)
Cincinnati at Tampa Bay (ESPN, Aug. 24)
Detroit at Jacksonville (CBS, Aug. 28)
Seattle at San Diego (CBS, Aug. 29)
Houston at New Orleans (FOX, Aug. 30)
Arizona at Oakland (NBC, Aug. 30)

Many more games will air on your local channels and regional sports networks.

The St. Louis Cardinals Nab $1 Billion for Local Cable TV Rights

Live broadcast rights for sporting events on cable television are still a big moneymaker. Even though its nationwide profile is lower than it’s ever been, falling well behind NFL football and NBA basketball in the professional sports conversation in the United States, the former National Pastime is still big in the towns with popular teams. The St. Louis Cardinals are the latest organization to capitalize on the money to be made on live game broadcasts, garnering a deal worth $1 billion over 15 years for rights for 150 games a year to be broadcast on Fox Sports Midwest.

More from Awful Announcing:

The contract will start in 2018, and the Cardinals’ rights fees will jump to to $50-55 million in the first year of the deal from $30-35 million in 2017, the final year in the previous deal with FS Midwest.

Roughly 150 games will be aired on the network with the new pact and, more importantly, the Cardinals will also be receiving a minority stake in the network going forward. The contract seems very similar, though it’s a shorter term, to the last local contract signed by an MLB team, the Arizona Diamondbacks.

While it seems absurd the amount of money being spent on live rights for local and regional cable television broadcasts, the St. Louis area is loyal to its Cardinals, and live sports is really the only area on television that is DVR-proof. Likely, many cable customers would cut the cord if it were not for national sports broadcasts on channels like ESPN and local and regional ones on channels like Fox Sports Midwest.