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NFL Network vs Big Cable

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NFL Network vs Big Cable

Several of you, (OK, two of you) have emailed me about my thoughts regarding the NFL Network's ongoing battle with ComCast and Time Warner. I hadn't wanted to address it until it was Packer-relevant, and boy, is it ever that this week.

I won't get into the ridiculous minutiae that is involved in the argument, (I leave that to people who draw a paycheck to write about such things) but suffice it to say it's basically one greedy faction against another. And as much as I love football and the Packers, I have to come down on Big Cable's side on this one. (Here's one of the better arguments I agree with.)

Look, I love football and I love the NFL Network. As my wife will tell you, during the season, it is on in our house every morning and every night. But the NFL wanting to make it part of Basic Cable is ludicrous. They like to say there's 'garbage' like a million food networks and such on basic cable that no one watches that all cable customers are paying for. Fair enough. But those 'garbage' channels aren't wanting to charge every cable customer a substantial amount more than all the other garbage channels. The NFL has an exaggerated sense of how important and popular they are. Do they have a rabid fan base? Certainly. But it's only football after all, and wanting to charge more for NFL Network than for CNN or Turner Classic Movies is arrogant and insular. There are just as many classic movie fans and news junkies as their are NFL fans. They just don't paint their faces and start blogs about it. (OK, maybe some of them do.)

Memo to the NFL: Your fans will pay, no matter how bad the service is (witness the case of Direct TV, the worst way to 'enjoy' television, but it survives due to its exclusive contract carrying the NFL Sunday Ticket) to see their team play. And yet you refuse to entertain a 'pay-per-view' model and hold-out for a Big Cable payday. Your ego and bloated sense of self-importance are only hurting the fans you claim to care about.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (10) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

j4a1's picture

Wow.. what a completely uninformed opinion. This is about the cable companies, essentially transport companies, wanting to make money on content. The NFL supplies the content, not Charter or Comcast or Time Warner. They supply cable to your house and a transport network. There is now competition in this transport arena. Local telephone companies, like CenturyTel in Wisconsin and AT&T offer DTV service. They are offering NFL network on their main teir. Same price or better than the big cable guys. And of course you have Direct TV and Dish Network competing too. Don't act like people don't have choices. They do.

packeraaron's picture

Of course they have choices...except when they don't. Like the millions of people who can't get Direct TV for technical reasons - or would you have entire populations move for the sole purpose of viewing NFL Network? And yes, the NFL supplies the content (and save for the live games, it is dubious content at best and getting worse - cheerleading competitions? Really? You call that 'content'?) and Time Warner and ComCast supply the means to get it into the majority of people's homes. The cable companies have offered to have the games available on a pay-per-view basis, but the NFL wants nothing to do with that. If they cared about their fans, like their pathetic "iwantnflnetwork.com" promotion suggests, they would jump at the chance. Instead, they are holding out for the big payday that being on basic cable would bring them.

Now, do I think Big Cable is without fault? Of course not, and I said as much in my post. But the NFL can't complain to fans that they are powerless to help them see their favorite team play - that is just stupid and insulting.

j4a1's picture

If the NFL Network content has no value...why all the complaining?

As for millions of people unable to get Direct Tv or Dish...well...how about all the Packer fans..say in San Franciso..that can't get their Packer fix each Sunday. Or how about the people the who can't get ESPN for Monday night games? Is it your plan to have every game on broadcast TV every weekend everywhere?

The fact is, this game and others like it, (NYG and Pats later this year), are driving competition. Local Telephone companies and even Power Companies are offering DTV and Internet services and increasing viewership based on this competition.

What is insulting is the big cable companies saying they can't afford to offer this service without raising everyones rates when their new competitors already are offering the programing..at lower rates!

j4a1's picture

By the way aaron...very nice website. I'm glad I found it. I'm not always so contentious.

packeraaron's picture

Thanks very much - and hey, contentious is good! Better than blowin' smoke up our ass ;) Always appreciate some intelligent back and forth...

Back to said back and forth - I think you missed my point - Pay Per View. That's the ultimate solution, which is where it will all end up anyway 10 years from now (maybe sooner) once internet is able to handle hi-def streaming. But again, the NFL wants nothing to do with that, and neither do the cable companies because local affiliates would lose revenue. Again, cable is no better - but cable doesn't hold the rights to the games - the NFL does.

j4a1's picture

It's an interesting problem. And one that is indicative of an industry and technology that is changing daily. Personally I want every opportunity and every medium possible to carry Packer and NFL games. The competition leads to lower prices and more choices. If the politicians start forcing the cable industry to carry the NFL network, it will just be an excuse for them to charge everyone more and slow the emergance of these new providers.

I think we can agree that an NFL ticket type arrangement for all providers is just around the corner. But for now, it's a great way for the new emerging providers to get a leg up on the big guys. In the long run, I think that's a good thing.

packeraaron's picture

Agree 100%. Like the movies and the recording industry, it's a last-gasp money grab before new technology renders the old model obsolete. I gather you work in the field?

j4a1's picture

I work for a phone company. Our subscribership skyrockets when things like this happen. We are currently running 2 months behind in installations.

To be honest, the big cable guys are doing us a big favor by playing hard ball with the NFL. I hope they keep up the good work!

cheese5's picture

ESPN has a short video about this issue:

<a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/broadband/video/videopage?&amp;brand=null&amp;... rel="nofollow">NFL Network vs. Big Cable Providers <a>

I was gonna put it on the video site but it's not worth it. The NFL could have chose to go another route. I think they feel that their fan base is so rabid that going to a sports bar in the short term is not worth that much when compared to owning their brand and dictating higher growth possibilities.

j4a1's picture

The advertising revenue for a "main tier" channel position is huge compared to a "sports tier" position. It's literally millions of viewers. The NFL knows that if they are relegated to sports tier now they will never be able to gain that position inthe future.

The thing that gets me is this feeling that the cable companies HAVE TO increase rates if they add NFL. They don't. Their profits may decrease, but that's competition. As a company that has been regulated by the local Public Service Commission and local municiple franchises, it appears the cable guys have gotten used to locking in their profit. Welcome to the brave new world of competition Cable boys. Time to tighten your belts.

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