Century, TW cablers pact with Sundance

Indie film channel set to launch in L.A., Houston

The two-year-old Sundance Channel has inked its first significant carriage agreements with top 10 MSOs Century Communications and Time Warner Cable, launching on Century’s systems in Los Angeles and Colorado Springs and Time Warner’s operation in Houston.

The deal with Century puts Sundance in front of some 200,000 system subs in the Los Angeles area (covering West Hollywood and Beverly Hills among others), though only a percentage of that total will actually have Sundance, which is primarily offered as part of a package of other premium services on a cable tier or included in a direct broadcast satellite grouping.

Sundance will roll out on Century-Los Angeles by March 31 after having launched on Century’s system in Colorado Springs, which boasts some 100,000 basic subscribers. Channel was picked up by Time Warner-Houston, which serves 286,000 subscriber homes, on Feb. 1.

Tom Christie, senior VP for sales and affiliate marketing at Sundance — a joint venture of Robert Redford, Polygram Filmed Entertainment and Showtime Networks — said Monday that the channel has a deal in place with Century (the No. 10 MSO) to roll out to at least half of its more than 1.3 million subs over the next three years.

However, Sundance has no specific deal in place with Time Warner Cable (ranked second) on a national level, Christie added. Each of the cabler’s systems has “unilateral rights” that require Sundance to negotiate with each individually.

Christie also noted Monday that the channel has deals pending “well down the road” with Media One, Comcast and top-ranked Tele-Communications, Inc.

The commercial-free, indie-rich Sundance can now be seen in some 3.5 million homes nationally and is “in front of” nearly 12 million, meaning that cable subscribers in 12 million homes have access to Sundance via their cable companies or satellite programmer. It is available via satellite over USSB, Primestar and EchoStar.

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