NFL to Kerry: Not Interested in One-Game Fix
National Football League Will Talk with Comcast, Time Warner Cable, But Long-Term, Not Just for Patriots @ Giants
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 12/12/2007 2:11:00 PM
The National Football League is ready to negotiate with cable operators for carriage of its NFL Network, but is not interested in a one-time shot at wider distribution for the network.
That's according to communications director Seth Palansky, responding to a request from Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) for a meeting in Washington, D.C., next week between the NFL, Comcast and Time Warner Cable to try to work out a way that more people can watch the Dec. 29 game pitting the New England Patriots at the New York Giants.
Kerry is anticipating that the game will be a record-setter, with the Patriots potentially matching the perfect season of the Miami Dolphins.
"We are fully prepared to meet with Sen. Kerry next week, along with Time Warner and Comcast," Palansky said. But what the league is not prepared to do, he added, is sign off on "a piecemeal approach that involves broader distribution of NFL Network for only one game.”
"We are prepared to negotiate immediately -- anytime and anywhere -- with Time Warner and Comcast for a long-term solution that will make NFL Network and its 24/7 programming available on a broad and affordable basis," Palansky said, pointing out that the channel is "accessible and affordable on two satellite companies, telco video services and 240 other cable companies."
Comcast was preparing a response at press time to Kerry's letter. Time Warner had not returned a call for comment. Comcast carries the network on a sports tier, while Time Warner does not carry the network.
Underlying this issue is to continuing call for a la carte pricing. The NFL Network knows it has a popular product that a large portion of cable subscribers want, & is using that leverage to negotiate a position on the basic tier . . . just like any other linear channel would.
Until a la carte pricing becomes available, the NFL Network has every right to negotiate its position (that its channel be carried on cable''s basic tier). If both parties accept that position, the remaining issue is price. That''s where I believe there is room for negotiation.
The MSO argument is that 70¢/mo. per subscriber is a cost it must pass onto to its subscribers in the form of a higher priced basic package, & not all basic subs watch NFL football. But you don''t hear that argument when it comes to basic carriage of ESPN. Cost to cable to carry ESPN on its basic tier is about $3.00/mo. per sub. While ESPN offers more broad programming content not limited to just professional football, can it be said that the value of ESPN to a basic sub is roughly 4X the value of the NFL network? Is the core issue here cost or choice of programming? I believe it is cost.
My guess is the NFL Network might be willing to drop its price somewhat, but not to the pricing level of other channels on the basic tier. I understand CNN receives about $.45/mo per sub while FoxNews gets $.30/mo. I don''t think the NFL''s asking price is that much out of line.
If many will recall, the NFL network granted a one-time deal with the MSOs last year, as a gesture to demonstrate consumer demand for its product. It''s a year later & still no deal. Why do it again as Kerry suggests? It''s time cut a deal or punt.
Jay Cable - 12/13/2007 11:37:00 AM EST
I think Sen. Kerry's actions are only bolstering the NFL Network's claims that they should not
be relagated to a sports tier. This is the league that produces the highest rated TV show of
the year. Their claim that their audience is large enough to justify including the channel on
the basic tier with channels like ESPN is certainly assited by two senators claiming a
particular foorball game requires wider distribution.
With regards to paying for a channel you don't want, both major US satellite providers as well
as the US IPTV providers manage to absorb the cost in their basic tier. And the basic tier is
packed with channels most people could care less about. On the other hand having to pay an extra
charge to get the NFL Network and a whole bunch of unrelated regional sports networks seem a lot
more like paying for channels you don't want. In fact it almost seems like sice the cable
networks know NFL Network is a desirable channel, they want to include it in their sports tier
knowing many people will take that package solely for the NFL Network (and pay much more than
they would for that network alone).
This entire argument is greed fueled by both sides, but I think the bet that the NFL has made
based on their assumptions about the size of their audience and popularity of their sport is the
Dave Bloom - 12/13/2007 11:29:00 AM EST
yeah.and i should not have to pay for WE, Lifetime, QVC, TBN, EWTN, MSNBC, CNBC, Food Network, and any other channels that I do not watch. I foot the bill for people to have channels I do not watch others should foot the bill for what I want to watch fair is fair.
why should i then - 12/13/2007 11:22:00 AM EST
No one should have to pay for something that they don't want. If I wanted the NFL package it should be made available to me, but my fellow cable subscribers should not have to foot the bill for what I want. Every sports organization out there wants a piece of the pie, but we should not have to pay for them to have that privilage.
Aixa Rivera - 12/13/2007 10:50:00 AM EST
I love my country(U.S.A)and believe in free enterprise. I however do not agree that the NFL should take the stance that it is their product and they can air it on whatever network they choose. I believe that without probably 100s of millions of dollars we NFL fans spend on merchandise all these players and owners would be without the millions they have and probably in a soup line somewhere. I would like to say to any player, owner, NFL personel, or Roger Goodell who see this, how bout returning the favor and simulcast the potential history making 12/29/07 game to a bigger audience. You really do not want this big black eye on your NFL face if you hold this game hostage. As for you Time Weiner shut the hell up, you have no idea what us subscribers want if you did you would get rid of the handful of junk stations like QVC, Golf Channel, and others that only 10 to 20 percent of subscribers watch. Like it or not us NFL fans are the bigger percentage.
chris tittle - 12/13/2007 9:05:00 AM EST
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