Updated: October 17, 2:04 PM ET
BETHPAGE, NY and BRISTOL, CT -- Cablevision Systems Corporation (NYSE: CVC) and ESPN Inc. have announced an agreement to add ESPN HD to Cablevision's expansive high-definition programming slate.
It will now feature 14 HD networks available to iO: Interactive Optimum® digital cable customers at no additional cost and the industry's first high-definition VOD service. ESPN HD will become available to iO customers with high-definition set-top boxes this week.
"This is a great addition to our high-definition programming slate, and we are especially pleased to have reached an agreement with ESPN that allows us to provide this highly-valuable HD service to our customers at no additional cost," said Kristin Dolan, Cablevision's senior vice president of digital and video product management.
"Our high-definition customer base has nearly doubled since the end of last year, to more than 70,000 today, and we believe the key to our success has been offering an expansive array of HD services without any additional fees. From the most popular local broadcast stations, to movie networks, PBS, regional sports services and now ESPN HD, we are delivering more HD programming than is available from any other cable or conventional satellite provider, and our customers are responding."
Telecasts on ESPN are simultaneously available on ESPN HD 24/7 including ESPN's flagship news program, SportsCenter, the company's first telecast from its new 120,000 square foot, state-of-the-art, all digital high-definition facility, the ESPN Digital Center.
ESPN HD, plans to deliver 200 originally produced events in HD in 2004. In addition to various studio programming, the high-definition telecast schedule includes games from Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, the National Football League, college football and basketball games as well as programs from ESPN's Original Entertainment (EOE) division.
"As the number one sports television brand in America, we are very pleased that ESPN HD will be available to Cablevision's subscriber base in the New York metropolitan area and its growing audience of high-definition customers," said ESPN Executive Vice President of Affiliate Sales and Marketing, Sean Bratches.
"Sports fans are enjoying access to more and more high-definition content and we are thrilled to work with Cablevision, a leader in the HD arena, to offer them this compelling sports experience."
For iO customers with high-definition television sets, Cablevision offers HD-capable converter boxes at no additional cost over the standard box rental fee. ESPN HD joins iO's industry-leading high-definition programming slate, which includes WCBS-TV New York, WNET Thirteen (PBS), WNYW-5 (FOX), MSG Network, Fox Sports Net New York, WNBC New York, Bravo HD+, HBO, SHOWTIME, Cinemax, STARZ!, The Movie Channel, iN DEMAND'S INHD and the industry's first high-definition video on demand offering, featuring more than 20 new release movies and unique titles originally seen in IMAX® theaters.
High-definition feeds of premium networks are available at no additional cost to all customers who subscribe to the standard-definition version of the networks.
Additionally, Cablevision and ESPN announced that they have reached agreement to add another ESPN network, ESPN Deportes, to Cablevision's comprehensive iO en Espanol Spanish-language programming tier. Available in select areas, iO en Espanol offers customers 30 Spanish-language networks, including World Picks Latino - the industry's first Spanish-language video on demand service.
Cablevision provides cable service to nearly 3 million customers in the New York metropolitan area, and nearly 1.1 million, or 36 percent, of the company's cable customers today are iO digital cable customers. With the addition of ESPN HD, iO offers 15 HD programming services to its more than 70,000 high-definition customers.
ESPN, Inc. is the world's leading multinational, multimedia sports entertainment company featuring a portfolio of over 40 multimedia sports assets. The company is comprised of seven domestic television networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Now, ESPN Today), ESPN HD, ESPN Regional Television, ESPN International (networks and syndication), ESPN Radio, ESPN.com, ESPN The Magazine, SportsTicker, ESPN Enterprises, ESPN Zones (sports-themed restaurants), and other growing new businesses including ESPN Broadband, ESPN Wireless, ESPN Video-on-Demand, ESPN Interactive and ESPN PPV.
Based in Bristol, Ct., ESPN is 80 percent owned by ABC, Inc., which is an indirect subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. The Hearst Corporation holds a 20 percent interest in ESPN.
Cablevision Systems Corporation is one of the nation's leading entertainment and telecommunications companies. Its cable television operations serve 3 million households in the New York metropolitan area. The company's advanced telecommunications offerings include its iO: Interactive Optimum digital television offering, Optimum Online high-speed Internet service, Optimum Voice digital voice-over-cable service, and its Lightpath integrated business communications services.
Cablevision's Rainbow Media Holdings LLC operates several successful programming businesses, including AMC, IFC (The Independent Film Channel), and other national and regional networks. Rainbow also is a 50 percent partner in Fox Sports Net. In 2003, Cablevision's Rainbow DBS launched its VOOM satellite service, the first service to offer a comprehensive array of high-definition (HD) television programming. In addition to its telecommunications and programming businesses, Cablevision is the controlling owner of Madison Square Garden and its sports teams, the New York Knicks, Rangers and Liberty.
The company also operates New York's famed Radio City Music Hall, and owns and operates Clearview Cinemas. Additional information about Cablevision Systems Corporation is available on the Web at www.cablevision.com.