December 27, 2007 12:34 PM
There’s been a lot of blather about how viewers are the victors now that the NFL Network, after failing to reach carriage agreements with major cable operators, caved and will simulcast the Patriots-Giants game on CBS and NBC.
The real victors are cable operators who refused to pay the high license fee and have argued that such a big-ticket item belongs on a sports tier, an option the NFL-owned network doesn’t cotton to at all. Given this decision, now the NFL doesn’t have any bargaining chips when it re-enters negotiations with Comcast Cable and Time Warner Cable, the nation’s two largest MSOs, next year.
I commend cable ops for their stance. Neither Comcast nor Time Warner wants to pass the high costs along to all of their subscribers. Both companies have been adamant about putting the NFL Network on a sports tier where it belongs.
In the end, the NFL Net, pressured by lawmakers including Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., had no leverage here. Pats fans would have thrown another Boston Tea Party if they couldn’t watch this all-important game for their team, which hasn’t lost a game all season.
Personally, I hope the debate about sports tiers heats up even more. ESPN, another pricey network, belongs on a sports tier with the NFL Network. Agree?