Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) is ramping up the pressure on Comcast, Time Warner Cable and the National Football League to find a way to make the New England Patriots at New York Giants game widely available.
That game is currently slated for a Dec. 29 airing on NFL Network rather than a broadcast outlet. Comcast, the top cable operator in terms of subscribers, carries the network on a sports tier, while Time Warner does not carry it.
In letters to all three parties Tuesday, Kerry said he had "no intention" of interfering in longstanding commercial negotiations, but he added that it was unfortunate that the three had not expressed much interest with him in meeting in Washington, D.C., on the issue.
Kerry said in a release Tuesday that it will be "a dark day for professional sports if the powers that be fail to make this game available to football fans across the country, let alone the local fan base, which extends beyond the teams’ home cities.”
He added, “The Patriots have the potential to make history later this month, but today, only 40% of homes will be able to watch it happen. Today, money threatens to keep fans in the dark, and that’s a damn shame for a league that built an empire and a fan base on free access to games.”
Kerry said he was still open to meeting with the three parties, but he seemed to put the onus on the NFL to resolve the one-time issue of the Patriots-Giants game, in which the Patriots seem likely to tie the 1972 Miami Dolphins as the only unbeaten NFL team for an entire regular season.
"I sincerely hope that the NFL realizes the value in providing the broadest possible access to a game of this magnitude," he said, "and that proprietary interests can be set aside for one day in the interest of football fans everywhere."