The moment of truth may be coming in the NFL Network/Cable showdown. This Thursday the NFL Network scored what is arguably the most interesting regular season game of the year (at least in the NFC): The 10-1 Packers vs. the 10-1 Cowboys. The trouble is, not a whole lot of people are going to be able to watch it outside of Dallas and Wisconsin.
Comcast, which recently sent a cease and desist letter to the NFL demanding that they stop encouraging customers to switch to their competitors (even though Comcast does offer the channel, albeit on a “sports tier” and not on basic cable like the NFL Network demands), has issued a statement condemning the NFL Network for “enriching themselves” at the expense of their fans.
David L. Cohen, Executive Vice President of Comcast says:
“Comcast offers the NFL Network to all of its interested customers today and they can watch every NFL game the league makes available on cable television. The fact is that the vast majority of our customers have elected not to receive NFL Network. Under our agreement with the NFL, which the league negotiated and signed, we offer the NFL Network as part of our Sports Entertainment Package. This is the best and fairest way to provide the NFL’s expensive programming to customers, because viewers who want to watch the channel will be able to see it, while others who prefer not to receive it will not be forced to pay.
While the NFL claims that it wants its games to be seen by the widest possible audiences, it’s actually their rules that limit which games fans can watch. It’s the NFL that designates which cities can have over-the-air broadcasts of specific games. It is also the NFL that decided to take these eight games off of free broadcast television and to try to enrich themselves at the expense of their fans by creating a multi-billion dollar asset called the NFL Network.”
Those are fighting words. As far as we can tell, most of the public doesn’t want their cable rates to go up so a few people can watch a few out-of-market NFL games, but feel free to let us know if we’re wrong.