Wide Open West Blacks Out NFL Network Games Because It "Can't Afford Them"

These NFL Network vs. Cable shenanigans are starting to really bug us. Reader Andy writes in to let us know that Wide Open West offers the NFL Network, but is blacking out the games because it can’t afford to pay the NFL Network to run them.

Somehow, this is Andy’s problem:

Today I did some sniffing about to see if my cable provider, Wide Open West, will be carrying the Cowboys/Packers game this Thursday. Attached is the correspondence between WOW and myself:

sent 11/28 When subscribing to WOW service for my home one of the deciding factors was the channel line up. Included in my area is the NFL network. However, on Thanksgiving night I tuned to the NFL network channel on my cable receiver only to find alternate programming on, not the game. This Thursday another game is supposed to be broadcast on NFL. Despite this when using the guide the programming is listed as TBA. I would like to know if the game is in fact being broadcast in my region, as well as why the game on 11/22 was not. Is the NFL network broadcast a barebones version? If so this should be advertised as such, as to avoid being misleading to potential consumers. THANKS. I look forward to hearing back.

reply received 11/28: Thank you for contacting WOW! Internet, Cable and Phone,

Due to contractual agreements between WOW! and the NFL Network, WOW! can not broadcast the regular season games shown on that channel. I apologize for the inconvenience.

Thank you,

[redacted] Tech Support WOW! Internet, Cable, and Phone

I replied that I feel they have misled consumers into believing they have programming that they do not. They advertise carrying the NFL network, but only offer a barebones version that lacks the games- Why else would you want this channel? I asked why it was not disclosed that the NFL network they offer is not a full version, and added that they have likely lost a customer- Not by having or not having the channel, but rather by leading me to believe I was paying for a something that in fact I do not receive.

I sent this your way to inform other consumers that not all NFL networks are the same, and to double check before assuming they can couch up to watch this game.


The suburban Chicago Daily Herald wrote a story about this same issue last year, reporting that they’d received similar complaints from Wide Open West customers. According to the story, WOW has been telling its customers that they aren’t getting the programming they’re paying for because the cable company is “not big enough” and “can’t afford it.”

Seth Pelandsky of the NFL Network tells the Daily Herald:

“Cable operators that carried NFL Network prior to the NFL Network acquiring the rights to the games had two choices,” wrote director of communications Seth Palansky in an e-mail. “Carry NFL Network with the game package on terms that 170 cable (and satellite) providers throughout the country have accepted as fair, reasonable, and a good value, or let customers know of their choice in time for them to do something about it. A handful of cable operators apparently chose to do neither.”

Any lawyers out there want to tell us if NFL Network can be held liable for causing migraines in consumer news bloggers? Its existence is pushing us over our monthly Excedrin budget.

NFL Network Playing Smash-Mouth With Cable Firms
[Daily Herald]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Shappie says:

    Is there any other reason to carry the NFL network besides to watch games you normally wouldn’t be able to see?

  2. Adam Hyland says:

    “Any lawyers out there want to tell us if NFL Network can be held liable for causing migraines in consumer news bloggers? Its existence is pushing us over our monthly Excedrin budget. “

    Meh. That’s like political cartoonists asking for Newt Gingrich to resign. I mean, there’s plenty of fun to be had making fun of all political buffoons, but why get rid of the low hanging fruit?

  3. LTS! says:

    Well, it’s crap if the company doesn’t tell their subscribers they won’t see the games.

    I still hate the NFL and it’s anti-consumer track record.

  4. brendanm14 says:

    I am a WOW subscriber and had to go through with this last year. I chose WOW at the time because they were cheaper than Comcast and had more HD channels. I saw NFL Network HD on my channel guide and got excited but then game time came around and it was The History of Football or some other crap programming.

    I have been told by the company that they have no future plans for any HD channels…..Comcast, you might be hearing from me soon.

  5. vastrightwing says:

    Thinking about Comcast? I PROMISE you’ll regret that decision. My advice is to go with Dish or even DirecTV, or do what I do, don’t get NFL; it’s a rip off.

  6. brendanm14 says:

    You are right…..not going to Comcast. Just got off the phone with them and it would cost me $100 in installation charges alone, a $75 DEPOSIT on a DVR, and a monthly bill that is $20 more.

    Here is WOW’s spin on the NFL Network situation; NFL Network will not allow them to add a package for this (but yet Comcast can?)


  7. brendanm14 says:

    You are right….not switching to Comcast….$150 in installation charges, $75 for a DVR deposit, $20 more a month than what I pay now, NOT HAPPENING. And I am supposed to be getting a deal for being a new customer?

  8. skinsfan44 says:

    Just moved and had Comcast come out- no installation charges and no downpayment for the DVR (just the $15 a month). I wish FIS was available where we are, but at least we didn’t get taged with all the other fees. I wonder why the descrepency?

  9. CaptainConsumer says:

    Just turn your TeeVee off on Sunday or Monday or Thursday or whenever the NFL is on. I’ll happily put my money where my mouth is, I’m not watching this year, I’m following along in the newspapers and online. Now, being a Browns fan this is extremely hard to do since they have decided in this, my year or petulence, to get good, but screw the NFL, screw Comcast.

    I’m tired of this kabuki dance over MY money so I say forget it. Nobody’s getting NFL rating point one from me so they can use that info to bash the other.

  10. tadowguy says:

    At least I finally figured out what Wide Open West is halfway through the story.

  11. tadowguy says:

    I did just remember another solution. Be a Skins fan living in Colorado, you’ll soon not watch a single game.

  12. Parting says:


  13. RvLeshrac says:



  14. BugMeNot2 says:

    Another option is going to a friend’s place that has the game or going out to a bar.

    The cost of a few beers a game should be less than what the cable co is charging to watch the games.


  15. mobbo says:

    I cancelled my cable, built a media center PC, and now I download all my shows on BitTorrent or watch HD over-the-air (it’s free). I’m just a day late when it comes to my usual sitcoms if they are on cable since my downloads usually finish the next morning. Plus I am building a nice “on-demand” gallery of my own.

    Major sports leagues, not including the MLS, could care less about the fans. Just look at MLB’s ridiculous blackout rules and their attempt to show Extra Innings only on DirecTV… completely abandoning FANS who live in apartment buildings and can’t get a dish.

    Now’s a good time to start loving another sport. I got into soccer (MLS) two years ago and since then I have not cared one bit about MLB or NFL. Soccer looks GORGEOUS in HD, there’s no commercials interupting the game flow, and going to a game doesn’t cost you and your family $400.

  16. BugBoysWorld says:

    I have the same issue here with Knology cable. Last year no games, and this year no games. I called Knology last year and was told that the NFL wanted more per subscriber to air the games. I have sent an email to the NFL network last year and again this year and have received no reply at all.

  17. bravo says:

    @mobbo: MLS cares about its fans because they don’t have very many.

  18. bc9b89 says:

    Just to come to WOW’s defense a little bit I’d like to say that this is really the only bad thing I’ve heard about the company yet. I get cable internet from them and I couldn’t be happier with the service. Also, they put the Big Ten network on their basic cable, and that is pretty cool. So yea, they are above average for a cable company even if they handled this NFL network thing the wrong way.

  19. Zenbenny says:

    I have WOW and was definately not informed of this. Went home to watch the game and simply couldn’t. Sad because NFL network was a must for me after having very significant problems with Comcast. I knew WOW was a smaller company which is actually one of the reasons I went with them (I want more competition in the marketplace). The blame here has to lie partially with NFL network through… I have never heard of any other network demanding more for their shows….