Cable consumers hate the NFL network. Not because its bad, but because the cable companies and the NFL are warring over it and passing the pain on to consumers.
Here’s the problem: The NFL network is wildly expensive for Comcast and other cable companies and, subsequently, the cable companies want to pass the charges on to only those consumers who want to pay extra for a 24/7/365 channel about professional football, rather than raise rates across the board. The NFL wants the cable companies to make the channel available to all of their customers.
It wouldn’t be such a big issue, except the NFL network is now showing actual games and well, consumers are touchy about paying for live sporting events that they used to be able to watch for free. An even larger amount of customers are touchy about their cable rates going up because of a specialty channel that they don’t want to watch.
Comcast and a few other cable providers have moved the NFL network up to a premium sports tier and are charging extra—against the will of the NFL, but in accordance with a ruling from a circuit court judge. The NFL is not happy. From NFL.com:
Some companies try to exploit fans’ passion for NFL football to drive revenues for their pay-extra sports packages. This is why we do our best to have NFL Network distributed broadly and affordably to all TV viewers, so our fans will not have to pay unreasonable costs to view our programming. These core NFL Network principles – broad distribution without extra costs – are what we believe Comcast agreed to, and what we are attempting to protect in our legal dispute with Comcast.
Pay-extra sports packages like, say, NFL Sunday Ticket? Exclusively on DirecTV? Ahem. What was Comcast’s response? From the San Jose Mercury News:
Andrew Johnson, Comcast’s senior vice president of communications, said the company bore the increased cost of last year’s games “under protest” while the lawsuit played out. He says the constant rate increases for cable service have nothing to do with this fight.
“You’ll be assured that NFL fans who pay for it will see it, and non-fans won’t have to pay for it,” he said.