Monday, January 2, 2017

Comcast, Fox News Reach Carriage Deal

Cable giant Comcast Corp. has reached an agreement to continue carriage of Fox News Channel, the two companies said, averting a blackout that would have left millions of viewers without access to the popular network.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that as part of the deal, Comcast and Fox News-parent 21st Century Fox have also come to terms on a new distribution agreement for Fox’s YES regional sports network, which is home to the New York Yankees. Comcast stopped carrying YES in late 2015 because of a contract dispute.

Keeping Fox News is important for Comcast, one of the nation’s largest pay-TV distributors with over 20 million subscribers. The news network is coming off its best year ever in terms of ratings and has a loyal audience.

To be sure, interest in election coverage lifted ratings for all cable news channels, but Fox News managed to outpace popular sports and entertainment networks as well including Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN. It ended 2016 as the most-watched cable network in prime time with an average audience of 2.4 million viewers and 1.4 million daily, according to Nielsen.

Since the election, Fox News is still up 30% in prime time compared with the same period a year ago while Time Warner Inc.’s CNN is down 25%. Comcast’s MSNBC also is up although its audience is much smaller.

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