Sports Cox

December is historically the time of year that carriage spats pop up, be it retrans consent breakdowns or expiration of cable network affiliation agreement renewals. Not many headlines thus far, but one to keep watch is Comcast and 21st Century Fox. The two are said to be in the middle of negotiations for Fox News and the Fox Sports RSNs, including FSN Ohio and Fox Sports Southeast. Neither company offered any insight into how those talks are going. Comcast has a history of negotiating deals without any interruption, and there are no signs of fireworks at this point. However, it does look like Comcast will at least lower the number of Fox Sports channels it carries. Comcast has notified customers that as of Dec 31, it will no longer distribute Fox College Sports. That’s a trio of small, nationally distributed nets— Fox College Sports Atlantic, Fox College Sports Central and Fox College Sports Pacific —that are currently included in MSO’s Sports and Entertainment Package. The channels launched in 2004 and include a hodgepodge of college sporting events as well as weekly coach’s shows. Neither company responded to requests for comment. One thing to watch with this negotiation is whether it may result in YES Network returning to Comcast’s lineup. Comcast dropped the Yankees and Nets channel in November 2015. 21CF owns 80% of the channel, prompting speculation that a new Comcast-Fox RSN deal could include renewed carriage of YES. Other outstanding carriage deals coming up include Comcast and TEGNA along with Optimum and AMC Networks (a possible positive sign: after a brief crawl last month on AMC, it’s been quiet). Altice USA’s deal with Disney is said to be up in early 2017.

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