ESPN and the NFL Network are reported to be in talks to form a partnership that would resolve the NFL-owned channel’s struggle to find distribution and increase subscribers.
According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, the Disney-owned ESPN and the NFL have held high-level discussions, involving Disney CEO Bob Iger, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Network CEO Steven Bornstein (a former chairman of ESPN).
In response to a call for comment, an NFL Network spokesman said, "We are in talks with ESPN and our other broadcast partners all the time on a wide range of issues."
NFL Network has struggled to get cable operators to carry the channel in the tiers it wants, resulting in legal battles and FCC complaints.
Last year, the network was scheduled to broadcast exclusively a potentially historic regular-season game between the New England Patriots and New York Giants. After pressure from fans—and Congress—the network allowed CBS and NBC to simulcast the game, drawing a total of 61 million viewers.