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]