Longhorn Network Gets Cable Access

Verizon FiOS service to carry fledgling network

Inside the Longhorn Network control room: Even with the new deal struck with Verizon's FiOS network, this still may be the only place in Austin watching launch day
Inside the Longhorn Network control room: Even with the new deal struck with Verizon's FiOS network, this still may be the only place in Austin watching launch day (Photo by John Anderson)

It is no secret that the Longhorn Network is still working to find a cable carrier. Well, this morning they announced their largest carrier to date: Verizon's FiOS fibre optic service. However, the late-breaking deal only starts on Sept. 1, meaning FiOS will carry the UT versus Rice game on Sept. 3, but not tomorrow's launch.

For those of you wondering who FiOS is (and we had to double check) it is Verizon's fiber optic network. As of July Verizon was telling the Dallas Morning News that it has 3.2 million TV subscribers nationally: But the kicker is that, last year, they suspended any further roll-out of the fiber network.

Austin viewers should not get too excited yet: FiOS joins EnTouch as the two named cable providers for the network, but neither is available locally. EnTouch only serves a small number of communities around Houston. FiOS is available in some parts of North Texas. Both are really full-service phone/internet/TV providers (although EnTouch also does home security and is its own power company.)

Still, Verizon is Verizon and, in a statement, executive vice president for Disney and ESPN Media Networks David Preschlack said, "Verizon’s early commitment to this network speaks to the university’s popularity and the consumer demand for this content."

As we report in this week's issue, so far the Longhorn Network has been moving forward without a major distribution deal. The rumor had been flying for the last day or so that they were about to announce a deal with Time Warner Cable, but that still has yet to materialize.

The Verizon deal does strike up the possibility of having access to content on mobile media. The press release does say that the network's content will be available online or via smartphone or tablet "in the near future" – but only to people with a FiOS TV bundle.

In Texas, the network will be available to FiOS TV Prime HD, Extreme HD and Ultimate HD subscribers on channel 79 in standard definition and channel 579 for high def. Outside of Texas, it will be available to FioS TV Ultimate HD subscribers on channel 320.

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