The Longhorn Network is expected to makes its ballyhooed and highly anticipated debut Friday. But who will get to watch it? Apparently, almost no one. And certainly not anyone in the Rio Grande Valley. The network is still seeking a distribution deal with a major cable carrier and/or satellite carrier. The three major providers in the Rio Grande Valley — Time Warner Cable, DirecTV and the Dish Network — do not have distribution deals with the Longhorn Network. It’s unknown when or if they will. “Regarding the Longhorn Network, we have to reach an agreement with the programmer, and in this case, it is ESPN,” Melissa C. Sorola, communications director of Time Warner Cable Texas region, told The Monitor. “We have had discussions with ESPN about the Longhorn Network, and at this time, we do not have an agreement in place.” Customer service representatives from DirecTV and Dish Network told The Monitor on Thursday that they do not provide the network. The Dish Network is keeping track of how many customers request it. The Longhorn Network gained its first national carrier Thursday, when Verizon announced it would provide the channel for its FiOS TV subscribers. The network can reach as many as 4 million viewers through FiOS TV, according to The Associated Press. The Longhorn Network will launch Thursday on FiOS TV, two days before the Longhorns open the season against Rice. The Longhorn Network will broadcast the Rice game live. Cable television analyst Adam Swanson of SNL Kagan told The Associated Press that while not having a major carrier already announced is “not ideal” for the Longhorn Network, it also isn’t unusual given the history of tough network negotiations with providers. He noted the long and expensive fights waged between cable providers and the NFL over the NFL Network. “We have confidence someone will see us on Friday,” Stephanie Druley, vice president of programming for the Longhorn Network, told The Associated Press. “We’re moving ahead, business as usual. It’s inevitable we’re going to be on TV.” The Longhorn Network and ESPN have a 20-year, $300 million deal in place. Stumbling out of the gates with such a huge deal wasn’t what University of Texas nor ESPN officials wanted. However, the network seems confident it eventually will find its footing because of the national reach the Longhorns have. “The Longhorns have a huge presence in Texas, with a passionate fan base that extends across the country,” David Preschlak, ESPN Media Networks executive vice president, told The Associated Press. The network has become a major point of contention within the Big 12, which lost Nebraska — to the Big Ten — and Colorado — to the Pac-12 — in July and may lose more. The ability to have its own network was a major reason Texas spurned offers to join the Big Ten and the Pac-10 in 2010. But its creation has ruffled some of the schools in the Big 12 amid worries it will give even more influence to the already wealthy and powerful Longhorns program. Texas A&M officials have authorized the school president to explore a possible move to the Southeastern Conference, throwing into question the storied rivalry between the Aggies and the Longhorns. Network officials hoped to be able to show Texas high school football games and highlights but that move has been shut down for now by the NCAA as a possible recruiting advantage. The Longhorn Network also hopes to be able to broadcast a Texas Big 12 football game, but league officials have said that can only happen if the league and the opposing school agree. — The Associated Press contributed to this report. — David Hinojosa covers sports for Valley Freedom Newspapers. He can be reached at (956) 683-4442.