NBC U renews carriage deal

Deal gives cabler TW other channels

HOLLYWOOD — NBC Universal Cable has engineered a renewed carriage agreement of its USA Network with Time Warner Cable in a deal that includes TW taking on three new networks: Universal HD, mun2 and Telemundo Puerto Rico.

“Time Warner has affirmed the value of USA Network,” said David Zaslav, prexy of NBC U Cable, referring to USA’s consistently high ratings, chalked up by such original series as “World Wrestling Entertainment Raw” for two hours every Monday night, “Monk,” “The Dead Zone” and “The 4400” as well as reruns of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”

USA will finish second to TNT this year in total primetime viewers among all ad-supported cable networks; next year, USA will get volumes of Olympic programming as the official network home of the U.S. Olympic team.

The strength of USA helped NBC U get some of its networks launched on TW Cable, the second-biggest cable operator in the U.S., reaching 10.9 million subscribers in 27 states.

NBC U already has deals in place with TW for the rest of NBC U’s cable networks, led by the Sci Fi Channel, CNBC, MSNBC and Bravo, all of which have a number of years left to go on their contracts.

TW also negotiated free-video-on-demand windows for a number of NBC shows, including NBC’s nightly newscast with Brian Williams, “Meet the Press,” “Hardball With Chris Matthews,” “The Abrams Report,” and the CNBC shows “Mad Money” and “Closing Bell With Maria Bartiromo.”

The Start Over technology that TW will launch later this year will include a selection of shows from most of the NBC U services, including the NBC broadcast network. Start Over allows a viewer who has missed some or most of a show to push a button on the remote and call up the program from the beginning.

But Start Over has some limitations that please NBC. For example, viewers can’t use it to fast-forward through commercials, the bete noir of ad-supported networks.

Fred Dressler, executive VP of TW Cable, said, “This agreement provides us with extremely desirable programming for Start Over, for our VOD offerings and interactive television.”

Universal HD consists of wall-to-wall high-def programming chosen from a mix of NBC U networks. The HD programs include the U.S. Open, Notre Dame football, NBC’s primetime “Medical Investigation” series, and movies like “Apollo 13” and “Mulholland Drive.”

Mun2, the bilingual network focusing on the lifestyles of young Latinos, has relaunched with a completely new programming lineup bolstered by fresh graphics.