'Monday Night Football' Goes Online for Subscribers

Time Warner Cable Inc. and ESPN are planning to serve up a bold cable-TV experiment in making programming available online behind a paywall, starting with this week’s “Monday Night Football.”

The two companies say they will make ESPN’s flagship channel available online for TV subscribers of Time Warner Cable. Those who can confirm their TV subscription through an online registration process can watch live programming on the Web just as it appears on TV for no additional charge—a model known as “TV Everywhere.”

Most of the industry’s forays in TV Everywhere so far have put scripted shows online in an on-demand format—usually sometime after they air on TV. For the most part, TV networks have yet to put their channels on the Web in real time, and doing so with one of the most popular cable networks and live sports programming—the best source of high audience ratings for TV—offers a high-profile stage for a risky experiment.

“We think this can be a catalyst to drive the industry towards broader adoption of the authentication model,” said Sean Bratches, executive vice president of sales with ESPN. “We anticipate doing this with a number of other affiliates.”

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