Comcast Moving NBA Network to Digital Classic Tier

Move will boost channel's potential audience to more than 10 million
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Comcast has made it a triple play.

The nation's largest cable operator announced Thursday that it is moving The NBA Network to its Digital Classic tier, boosting the channel's potential audience from a couple million on its sports tier to over 10 million.

The long-term deal is for seven years. As with the NFL and NHL Network, the channel will still be available on the sports entertainment tier as well so that subscribers to the digital starter tier can also get them by subscribing to the sports tier.

The Comcast move is a similar to pact to the one NBA TV reached with DirecTV in April that will see it migrate to the DBS leader's Choice Xtra package from its Premier Package and Sports Pack, also tipping off with the 2009-10 NBA season next fall, when the pro hoops service hopes to have a 30-million subscriber roster.

The move will come "before the 2009-2010 season" said Comcast, and follows its decision Wednesday to reposition The NHL Network to the more widely viewed digital tier.

The first of the trio of sports channel moves was Comcast's renewed carriage deal with the NFL Network, which resolved a lengthy carriage/program access dispute that wound up in court and before an FCC administrative law judge.

Comcast will continue separately to offer the NBA League Pass package of games, a subscription package of 40 out-of-market NBA games.

The announcement of the NBA deal comes on a big day for the league, the start of the NBA finals between the L.A. Lakers and Orlando Magic.

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