Google Fiber TV, the new player in Kansas City television service (launching this fall) wants to include some regional college basketball games in its subscription package. Time Warner says it has negotiated in good faith to sell local and regional live sports programming to the upcoming super-high speed TV-and-Internet service.
But Google expressed frustration to federal regulators about its ability to gain access to the regional sporting events from Time Warner’s MetroSports channel.
In a 9/21 letter, Google detailed discussions it had with FCC officials and “the continuing ability of competitors and new entrants to access essential regional sports programming.”
The lineup Google Fiber TV is offering consumers has some notable holes — no HBO, AMC and Fox News — the basic $120-a-month package does include a rich selection of national sports channels. Among its offerings in that basic lineup are eight ESPN channels, NBC Sports, and the NFL and NHL networks, reports The Kansas City Star.
But so far it lacks local sports. Google did not mention Time Warner or MetroSports in its FCC letter. Google Fiber TV also lacks Fox Sports Kansas City.
Time Warner says FCC rules require it to make certain “must-have” college sports events available to potential competitors.
The cable company told the paper in an emailed statement that it “has absolutely offered, and continues to offer, what the FCC describes as MetroSports’ ‘must-have’ live regional sports programming – men’s and women’s Division I basketball — at fair and reasonable prices. As for the remaining programming on MetroSports, we have long invested in local programming, and they are welcome to do the same.”
So if Google wants to cover high school sports, Time Warner suggests, it can hire crews to film and call the games itself.
RBR-TVBR observation: Yes, TWC is obligated to offer Google Fiber TV a decent lineup of “must-have” college sports events at fair pricing. But it doesn’t have to strike a carriage deal for its own MetroSports channel with anyone. TWC can’t be forced to offer up a network that it owns and has struck content deals over with local sports teams. It spent the time, money and effort on this competitive edge and it might just want to keep it in the fold.