So, it looks like the Patriot – Giants game will be on ‘free’ over-the-air TV (seen mainly on ‘paid’ cable or satellite). Originally it was scheduled to be on the NFL Network alone.
This is a complex story, but it seems the NFL is the real short term loser here.
Basically, the NFL created its own sports network and seeded it with a handful of games. In years gone by, these would have been shown on free TV and, in fact, they were still going to be shown on free TV in the teams’ home markets.
The idea was to force cable companies to carry the network year round. That would be the only way to have access to these individual games. The NFL wanted it to be included on cable as a basic service, like CNN or ESPN and not a pay add-on, like HBO or Showtime.
It was a lot to swallow for a few out-of-market games and lots (and lots) of filler.
Unfortunately for the NFL, the cable companies balked and few fans cared. Did you really miss the Broncos – Texans game on December 13 (or the other random match-ups¹)?
This would have all passed quietly, except for this weekend and the Patriots going for an undefeated season. Now the NFL had leverage. Fortunately, it blew up in their faces.
Under enormous pressure from Congress on down, the NFL relented. Now, this marquee game will be seen on the NFL Network, NBC and CBS! In Boston and New York City it will be on a fourth station as well! ABC might as well run the “All-Star Salute to Cheese.”
In trying to force the cable companies to carry their network, the NFL didn’t have a leg to stand on because of one other move they’d made: NFL Sunday Ticket.
NFL Sunday Ticket is the NFL’s package, offering every game live. As much as the cable companies and Dish Network want that (and I’d probably buy it), it is only offered on DirectTV.
This is a guess on my part, but I’ll bet Sunday Ticket is the most powerful selling point DirectTV has.
The cable ops (and I) wondered, how the could NFL cry about their fans inability to watch these NFL Network games when it wouldn’t provide all the other games to those same poor fans? This is the definition of chutzpah!
There’s an old story about a guy who kills his parents and then throws himself on the mercy of the court because he’s an orphan. That’s the NFL!
I don’t know how this will all come out. At some point the NFL will have to accept defeat and decide if this in-house network is really a viable concept.
Is it just me, or is there a cosmic thread which runs through America where we root for the evil, greedy corporation to get its comeuppance. At the moment, I couldn’t be happier.
In the Fox house, we will continue to root against the Giants. The Pats achievement is less important.
¹ – NFL Network 2007 Game Schedule
Week 12: Thursday, November 22 at 8:00 PM ET (Live)
Indianapolis Colts at Atlanta Falcons (Thanksgiving)
Week 13: Thursday, November 29 at 8:00 PM ET (Live)
Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys
Week 14: Thursday, December 6 at 8:00 PM ET (Live)
Chicago Bears at Washington Redskins
Week 15: Thursday, December 13 at 8:00 PM ET (Live)
Denver Broncos at Houston Texans
Week 15: Saturday, December 15 at 8:00 PM ET (Live)
Cincinnati Bengals at San Francisco 49ers
Week 16: Thursday, December 20 at 8:00 PM ET (Live)
Pittsburgh Steelers at St. Louis Rams
Week 16: Saturday, December 22 at 8:00 PM ET (Live)
Dallas Cowboys at Carolina Panthers
Week 17: Saturday, December 29 at 8:00 PM ET (Live)
New England Patriots at New York Giants