TW shuts out Fox Sports

Time Warner downgrades net to digital

The first fallout from the loss of New York Mets games has hit Fox Sports New York: The network was downgraded as of Wednesday from analog to digital by Time Warner Cable of New York City.

Time Warner cable subscribers will get a new network in the FSNY slot: SportsNet New York, which kicks off March 16 as the cable home of the Mets. SportsNet is owned by Time Warner Cable, Comcast Corp. and the Mets themselves.

Chuck Dolan’s Cablevision owns FSNY, and another Dolan-owned network, WE: Women’s Entertainment, also is getting the boot by TWC of NYC from analog to digital.

The demotions of FSNY and WE could be harbingers of a new toughness by cable operators toward networks. To Time Warner, FSNY didn’t deserve its analog beachfront property because it will no longer have access to Mets games, a severe blow to FSNY’s lineup coming on top of the defection of the pro basketball New Jersey Nets a couple of years ago.

Similarly, Time Warner was not satisfied with the program schedule of WE, which, according to TW, didn’t harvest enough viewers to generate interest from Madison Avenue in the two minutes an hour held back by the cable systems to sell locally.

Despite getting dissed by TW, Dolan’s Cablevision, which reaches 3 million subscribers in the New York suburbs, is expected to sign up for SportsNet NY any day now because of the popularity of the Mets in many of the Cablevision regions.