Which distributors have the toughest reputation when it comes to programming negotiations? The answer may not be too surprising, but it’s always fun to see top network brass speaking publicly on the matter.

"EchoStar; Cablevision tends to be very difficult to get distribution; Charter I think we were worried about,” Comcast Programming Group pres Jeff Shell said according to a transcript of testimony from this month’s ALJ hearing of NFL’s carriage complaint against the MSO. He was responding to a question about which providers concerned Comcast in terms of achieving distribution had Versus (then OLN) won the 8-game NFL package that ended up going to NFL Network.

Rather than seek a surcharge for the games, Shell said in a deposition referenced in the hearing that the plan was to reset OLN’s rate since a lot of affiliate agreements were up at that time. Although he did finger a few multichannel providers as being specific distribution concerns, he also said “all of them were a risk.”

One exhibit at the hearing was a Comcast analysis handicapping distribution. Shell said it appeared that the affil sales team assigned a probability for each distributor on whether they would accept the rate card. The scale ranged from 1-10, with 10 meaning they’d definitely carry and 1 meaning they absolutely would not. Charter was assigned a 2—or a 20% chance, according to the transcript, which was released Mon.

Not surprisingly, Comcast was assigned a 10 on the chart. “My understanding was that as part of our bid for these rights, we guaranteed that Comcast would carry the network,” Shell said.

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