NFL Network

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NFL Network
NFL Network 2012 Logo.png
Current logo, introduced April 26, 2012. The NFL Shield logo is rendered next to the word "Network", which is in a right-italic font with an aggressive type of block font.
Launched November 4, 2003
Owned by National Football League
Picture format 1080i (HDTV)
(HD feed downgraded to letterboxed 480i for SDTV sets)
Slogan Together We Make Football
Country United States
Language English
Broadcast area United States, Canada and Mexico
Headquarters Culver City, California
Website NFLNetwork.com
Availability
Satellite
DirecTV (U.S.) 212 (HD/SD)
Dish Network (U.S.) 154 (HD/SD)
Red Zone Channel:
155 (HD only)
SKY México (Mexico) 1526 (HD)
526 (SD)
Shaw Direct (Canada) 420
Bell TV (Canada) 448
Cable
NFL Network and Red Zone Channel available on most U.S. and Canadian cable systems Consult your local cable provider for channel availability
Cablevision 150
Cablevision (México) 956 (HD)
512 (SD)
Verizon FiOS (U.S.) 588 (HD)
88 (SD)
NFL RedZone:
835 (HD)
335 (SD)
IPTV
Sky Angel (U.S.) 322
AT&T U-verse (U.S.) 1630 (HD)
630 (SD)
Google Fiber (U.S.) 30 (HD/SD)
Bell Fibe TV (Canada) 448
Telus Optik TV (Canada) 684 (HD)
132 (SD)

NFL Network (occasionally abbreviated on-air as NFLN) is an American sports-oriented cable and satellite television network that is owned by the National Football League (NFL) and is part of NFL Media, which also includes NFL.com, NFL Films, NFL Mobile, NFL Now and NFL RedZone. Dedicated to American football, the network features game telecasts from the NFL, as well as NFL-related content including analysis programs, specials and documentaries. The network is headquartered in the Los Angeles suburb of Culver City, California, and broadcasts its worldwide feed from Encompass Digital Media (formally Crawford Communications) in Atlanta, Georgia.[1]

As of June 2014, NFL Network is available to approximately 72,313,000 households that subscribe to a cable, satellite and telco television service in the United States (totaling 62.09% of U.S. households with at least one television set).[2]

Background[edit]

NFL Network was launched on November 4, 2003, only eight months after the owners of the league's 32 teams voted unanimously to approve its formation. The league invested $100 million to fund the network's operations. NFL Films, which produces commercials, television programs and feature films for the NFL, is a key supplier of NFL Network's programming, with more than 4,000 hours of footage available in its library. As a result, much of the network's highlights and recaps feature NFL Films' trademark style of slow motion game action, sounds of the game, and sideline conversations between players and/or team staff.

The original NFL Network logo, used from 2003 to 2008.
The second NFL Network logo, used from 2008 to 2012.

Beginning with the 2006 season, the network began to broadcast eight regular season NFL games during Thursday prime time, branded as Thursday Night Football. In addition to live games, the network has provided coverage of the NFL Draft since 2006; its coverage competes with that provided by ESPN and ESPN2.

At the 2008 NFL Draft, NFL Network unveiled a revised logo that was updated to match the revised NFL logo introduced around the same time. Unlike the updated logo for the league, the NFL Network's logo included subtle changes such as using a darker shade of blue and changing the "NFL" lettering to match that of the new league logo. During the 2012 NFL Draft, the network debuted an overhauled logo resembling that used by sister network NFL Red Zone; the network also began to play down the "HD" branding used on-air, as the vast majority of cable providers currently carrying NFL Network transmit the channel's standard definition feed as a downscaled letterboxed version of the high definition feed.

Programming[edit]

NFL game telecasts[edit]

Prior to the 2012 season, the NFL Network aired live primetime games on Thursdays beginning in mid-November. Starting with the 2012 season, the network began televising one live Thursday night game each week from Weeks 2 through 15 (excluding Thanksgiving Day), as well as one live Saturday night game during Week 16. As a result of the addition of these extra games, every NFL team now appears in at least one game on either NFL Network's Thursday Night Football, a Thanksgiving Day game or in the season-opening kickoff game each season (the season opener falls on the Thursday prior to Week 1 and is televised on NBC, while the Thanksgiving Day tripleheader games air on CBS, Fox and NBC). As with the games broadcast by ESPN's Monday Night Football, the NFL Network telecasts are also aired on a designated broadcast television station in the primary markets of the participating teams, although stations in the home team's market only carry it if the televised game sells out all remaining available tickets 72 hours prior to the game's start time.

When Thursday Night Football premiered, veteran television announcer Bryant Gumbel served as play-by-play announcer, with former Fox and current NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth serving as color commentator for the broadcasts.[3] Collinsworth won the Sports Emmy for best game analyst for his work on the NFL Network telecasts. Dick Vermeil replaced Collinsworth for two games in 2006; Marshall Faulk and Deion Sanders replaced Collinsworth when needed in 2007.

In August 2007, the network televised the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New Orleans Saints as NBC opted to cover that year's preseason game in China, which was later canceled. The 2007 schedule began on November 22 (Thanksgiving night), with a game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Gumbel and Collinsworth returned as the booth announcers.

Bob Papa, also the radio voice of the New York Giants on local sports talk station WFAN, announced the games starting in 2008. Former Detroit Lions general manager Matt Millen was named Collinsworth's replacement at the same time. Former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann joined Papa and Millen in the booth for the 2010-11 season. In May 2011, NFL Network announced that Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock would serve as the announcers for that season's game broadcasts.

On February 5, 2014, in a partnership with CBS Sports, CBS announced that it would air Thursday night NFL games in simulcast with NFL Network during weeks 2 through 8 and a Saturday doubleheader game during Week 16 of the 2014 regular season. The remainder of the games will air on NFL Network, and will be simulcast on broadcast television stations in the primary markets of the participating teams. NFL Network hosts will still handle duties for pre-game, halftime and post-game coverage; however, Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, who host CBS's NFL coverage, will handle commentary for the games and all of the games in the package will be produced by CBS Sports. The first game to be simulcast on CBS and NFL Network will air on September 11, 2014, with a Thursday primetime game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens.[4][5]

The NFL Network-televised games are also broadcast on Sky Sports in the United Kingdom and usually by Sportsnet in Canada, with an audio simulcast presented on syndicated radio service Westwood One in the United States and Canada.

NFL exhibition games[edit]

NFL Network televises all 65 NFL exhibition games each August. Some of the games air live on the network, however a majority of these contests air on a tape-delayed basis, using the home team's local broadcast for the first half and the visitors' broadcast for the second half and overtime if necessary. In 2007, eight live broadcasts were scheduled; two of them were produced by NFLN using the Run to the Playoffs production crew and the other six used the format just mentioned. Red Zone begins when opponent is inside the defender's 20-yard line.

Other football[edit]

Arena Football League[edit]

NFL Network held the broadcast rights to the revived Arena Football League from 2010 to 2012. Starting with the 2010 season, the network broadcast a weekly Friday Night Football game each week during the regular season and playoff games at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time from March to August, in addition to rights to playoff games and the ArenaBowl. The NFL stated that unlike when the NFL last showed interest in arena football, there would be no attempts to buy into the league.[6] Broadcasters for the games included Kurt Warner, Tom Waddle, Paul Burmeister, Fran Charles, Charles Davis and Ari Wolfe.

Starting with the 2010 season, the network obtained the broadcast rights to the Arena Football League. Each Friday, the NFL Network aired a Game of the Week from the AFL through the league's playoffs and culminating with the ArenaBowl. Also beginning in 2010, the channel began to broadcast 14 regular season games as well as the Grey Cup from the Canadian Football League.

NFL Network ceased airing Arena Football League games partway through the 2012 season as a result of ongoing labor problems within the league. The season's remaining games were carried on a tape delay, before the network terminated the league broadcast contract outright at the end of the season; the rights were then obtained by CBS Sports Network.

College football[edit]

On December 29, 2006, NFL Network televised the 2006 Insight Bowl between Minnesota and Texas Tech from Tempe, Arizona.[7] The game featured the biggest comeback in NCAA Division I-A bowl history, with Texas Tech coming back from a 38-7 third-quarter deficit to win 44-41 in overtime. The network later made the game available for free to stream on its website.[8] The network also broadcast the Texas Bowl in Houston on December 28, 2006, whose promotion rights are owned in part by the NFL's Houston Texans, in which Rutgers defeated Kansas State, 37-10.[9]

The network also showed a college all-star game after the college football season: the Under Armour Senior Bowl, which was held in Mobile, Alabama on January 27, 2007.[10] NFL Network was also expected to show the Las Vegas All-American Classic in Henderson, Nevada on January 15, but the game was canceled due to lack of sponsorship. On April 14, 2007, the network televised the Nebraska Cornhuskers' spring football game. The network again aired the Insight, Texas and Senior bowls in late 2007 and early 2008. In addition, it carried two games between historically black colleges and universities during the 2007 season, including the Circle City Classic at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana.

As of 2011, with ESPN obtaining the rights to almost every bowl game – including those that are part of the Bowl Championship Series – except for the Sun Bowl and Cotton Bowl Classic (which respectively maintain contracts with CBS Sports and Fox Sports), NFL Network no longer airs any bowl games, although it continues to carry the Senior Bowl.

High school football[edit]

NFL Network aired two high school all-star games in June 2007: the Bayou Bowl between players from Texas and Louisiana on June 9 (via a live feed from regional sports network FSN Southwest), and the Big 33 Football Classic between players from Pennsylvania and Ohio on June 16 (sharing its feed with CN8 (now the Comcast Network) and cable outlets in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Canadian Football League[edit]

On July 1, 2010, NFL Network began airing live Canadian Football League games simulcast from Canadian sports network TSN. NFL Network aired the league's Thursday games, three Saturday games during the month of July, and then Friday night games beginning in September (after ArenaBowl XXIII). NFL Network did not air CFL games during August as it carried a heavy amount of NFL preseason game broadcasts.[11][12] In addition, NFL Network did not carry any playoff games, including the Grey Cup championship, as those games are all played on Sundays opposite NFL regular season games. Those games were instead broadcast on the ESPN3 online service (ESPN owns a 20% interest in TSN, in a joint venture with majority parent Bell Media). On May 25, 2012, NFL Network announced it would not renew its contract with the CFL;[13] The package was subsequently acquired by the NBC Sports Network.

High definition[edit]

NFL Network HD is a 1080i high definition simulcast feed of NFL Network that launched in August 2004. It is available nationally on satellite providers DirecTV and Dish Network, and regionally on Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-verse and most Comcast and Cogeco Cable systems.

In mid-October 2008, in-studio programs began to air in "enhanced HD", featuring contained additional scores and statistics on a dedicated wing on the right side of the screen that was only visible on the HD feed. Content that is presented in 4:3 standard definition is shown with stylized pillarboxes, or for some footage, blurred pillarbox wings. On May 1, 2009, NFL Total Access began airing in full HD without pillarboxing or enhanced graphics; this was followed by the upgrade of NFL GameDay to HD the following September.

Most providers began to exclusively carry the HD feed of the network during 2011, transmitting a downscaled and letterboxed version of the HD feed to provide the channel in 4:3 standard definition for analog viewers without any deviation, including the "NFL HD" logo. The standard definition feed was discontinued entirely in July 2012, concurrent with the introduction of the network's current logo.

NFL RedZone Channel[edit]

NFL Network Redzone.png

The NFL RedZone Channel is a special game day-only channel that broadcasts on Sundays during the regular season from 1:00 to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time (10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time). Wraparound content between game coverage is based out of the NFL Network studios and hosted by Scott Hanson. RedZone provides "whip around" coverage of all Sunday afternoon games airing in-progress on CBS and Fox. Whenever a team enters the red zone, the coverage will switch full-screen over to the live feed of that game's television broadcast, and attempt to cover a potential scoring result (touchdown or field goal).

If there are no teams in the red zone at a given moment, the focus may shift to a team on a strong offensive drive, or an otherwise important game of the day. During the latter portion of the season, extra sidebar attention may be given to teams fighting for playoff berths, and the respective status thereof. The "whip around" coverage also is used to show quick replays of major plays such as turnovers, deep pass completions, kickoff/punt return touchdowns, and other potentially interesting or important key plays. The "Game Rewind" feature is sometimes used to replay a significant play that resulted a particular team going into the red zone. Periodically throughout the afternoon, producers keep track of and update viewers on the status of fantasy football statistics, and/or other statistical superlatives. The channel is able to show each touchdown scored in every game throughout the afternoon.

Red Zone operates as a commercial-free service; as such, whenever a game taking primary focus goes to a broadcaster-designated commercial break or other stoppage (such as timeout, instant replay challenge or a injury timeout), the feed will immediately switch to the next most-interesting game in-progress at the moment. If all games being held at a given moment are on a commercial break or in halftime, coverage will revert to the studio for brief commentary or statistical analysis by Hanson. It is not unusual for RedZone to switch between two or more games in quick succession, even between individual plays. At certain times during the afternoon, a split-screen might be used, with two, three or as many as eight game feeds being shown simultaneously. At the conclusion of the network's broadcast day at 8:00 p.m. or whenever the final daytime game concludes, whichever is earlier, an edited montage of every touchdown scored throughout the afternoon is replayed. Due to contractual obligations, RedZone must sign-off no later than 8:00 p.m., even if late afternoon games are still in progress.

After the broadcast day ends at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, RedZone Channel remains dark until the following Sunday. The channel signs-on with the 90-minute pregame show NFL Fantasy Live at 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time, which primarily focuses on fantasy football. Unlike the game coverage, commercials are inserted during the pregame show. During the playoffs and off-season, a generic title card advertisement is shown, accompanied by music from NFL Films; however, cable providers may overlay their own tie-in title card. Providers are disallowed from using the channel space for other purposes during its off-time, unlike regional sports networks that carry overflow feeds for additional games on networks such as TVGN or a regional news channel. On select nights during the preseason, special "whip around" coverage airs on NFL Network itself, utilizing the same production team and host as that seen on RedZone.

The RedZone Channel is available on most providers carrying the NFL Network,[14][15][16][17][18][19] and is presented in both standard and high definition; availability of the channel depends on the service tier. Some carriers might carry NFL Network available on their main digital tier, while RedZone might be relegated to a digital sports tier at an additional cost.

In the United Kingdom, NFL RedZone is available as a Red Button option to Sky Digital[20] and Virgin Media subscribers.

The channel should not be confused with a similarly named and formatted service Red Zone Channel, a service included as part of DirecTV's out-of-market sports package NFL Sunday Ticket, and hosted by Andrew Siciliano.

NFL Network Sunday afternoon coverage[edit]

Due to contractual restraints and requirements, along with not wanting to cannibalize the coverage of the television networks airing the games, during Sunday afternoons for the early games in the regular season and playoffs, NFL Network does not broadcast any live-action programming, instead airing a rolling and commercial-free information feed of current scores and statistics overlaid with audio from Sirius NFL Radio which contains a talk format of fantasy football, league and injury information, along with traditional radio-style minute long summary reports of game action from reporters at each stadium and limited clips of game action from team radio networks. After the last 1 p.m. ET game ends, NFL Network begins to air a rolling highlights show for those games, but none of the on-going 4:30 p.m. ET games until the last of those games ends. A highlights show containing action from the early day games then continues looping until the end of that night's Sunday Night Football game, when NFL GameDay can air all the day's action without restrictions.

International distribution[edit]

Canada[edit]

NFL Network is available in Canada through various cable, satellite and telco providers, including Bell TV, Vidéotron and Rogers Cable. Regular season NFL broadcasts on the network will be blacked out in Canada to protect Sportsnet, which maintains exclusive Canadian television rights to the Thursday through Saturday NFL game package. In addition, CFL telecasts shown on NFL Network were blacked out in Canada during the network's broadcast contract with league in order to protect domestic rights holder TSN.

Mexico[edit]

NFL Network is available in Mexico on satellite provider SKY México and cable provider Cablevision.

United Kingdom[edit]

It was reported that the network would be made available in the United Kingdom in 2008.[21] As of December 2010, Sky Sports carries the NFL RedZone Channel live via the red button option on the Sky Digital platform.

Philippines[edit]

SkyCable in Manila began to carry the network in 2011.[citation needed]

ESPN partnership[edit]

In a February 2008 report in The Wall Street Journal, NFL Network chief executive officer and former ESPN chairman Steve Bornstein was been in “high-level discussions” with NFL and executives from The Walt Disney Company including Disney CEO Robert Iger and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. An analyst quoted in the report suggested combining NFL Network with ESPN Classic, which has a wide distribution on expanded basic cable tiers but attracts a modest audience. ESPN could use its market weight and demand more than the 16 to 17 cents per month that it currently receives from ESPN Classic.[22] Though such a merger has not occurred as of 2010, ESPN Networks and NFL Network do share some programming (such as NFL's Greatest Games).

Carriage and distribution complications[edit]

The NFL Network has had carriage disputes with a number of cable and satellite providers. The network-run IWantMyNFL.com website was designed to sell customers to push DirecTV to carry the channel instead of the traditional carriage-building strategy of asking cable customers to contact their cable providers and request the network; the site has since become a redirect to the network's website as cable coverage has been attained.

Comcast[edit]

On November 10, 2006, Comcast announced it would add NFL Network on its digital tier in time for the debut of the network's eight-game Thursday- and Saturday-night package.[23] On August 6, 2007, Comcast moved NFL Network from the digital tiers to the Sports Entertainment Package. This led to a court battle between NFL Network and Comcast, with the ruling in favor of Comcast; the NFL Network later appealed the ruling.[24] Comcast sent NFL Network a cease-and-desist letter to stop encouraging subscribers to drop their Comcast service.[25] Comcast's carriage agreement with the NFL Network ended in mid-2009.[26] On February 26, 2008, a New York appellate court reversed course on a May 2007 judgment that allowed Comcast to move the network from its second-most distributed tier to the company's sports tier. At that time, a court date had not been set. Four judges at the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, ruled the language "concerning additional programming package was ambiguous and that neither party has established that its interpretation of the relevant contracts is a matter of law."[27] Comcast's deal with the NFL Network was set to expire on April 30, 2009.[28] According to messages sent out to Comcast, Midco, and some Cable Systems customers with or without set-top boxes, NFL Network might be removed from some customers' channel lineups. The message said: "In spite of our efforts to continue carrying NFL Network/NFL Network HD, the NFL may terminate our rights. As a result these networks may be removed from lineups as soon as 5/1." On April 10, 2009, it was confirmed that Comcast would remove the channel on that date due to failing to reach a carriage agreement. However, on April 30, 2009, NFL Network announced that it would continue to be carried on Comcast in the interim while both sides tried to reach an agreemenet on a new contract.[29] On July 30, 2009, NFL Network was made available to lower-tiered Comcast digital cable subscribers.

NFL Network later filed a discrimination case against Comcast with the Federal Communications Commission, claiming that since Comcast does not charge an extra fee for the sports channels it owns, Versus and Golf Channel, it considered Comcast's move to charge extra for NFL Network unfair. On October 10, 2008, the FCC ruled as follows:

In the Second Report and Order, the Commission emphasized that the statute “does not explicitly prohibit multichannel distributors from acquiring a financial interest or exclusive rights that are otherwise permissible,” and thus, that “multichannel distributors [may] negotiate for, but not insist upon such benefits in exchange for carriage on their systems.” The Commission stated, however, that “ultimatums, intimidation, conduct that amounts to exertion of pressure beyond good faith negotiations, or behavior that is tantamount to an unreasonable refusal to deal with a vendor who refuses to grant financial interests or exclusivity rights for carriage, should be considered examples of behavior that violates the prohibitions set forth in Section 616.” We find that the NFL has presented sufficient evidence to make a prima facie showing that Comcast indirectly and improperly demanded a financial interest in the NFL’s programming in exchange for carriage. We further find that the pleadings and documentation present several factual disputes as to whether Comcast’s retiering of the NFL Network is the result of Comcast’s failure to obtain a financial interest in the NFL’s programming. Accordingly, we direct an Administrative Law Judge to hold a hearing, issue a recommended decision on the facts underlying the financial interest claim and a recommended remedy, if necessary, and then return the matter to the Commission within 60 days.[30][31]

Comcast trial[edit]

The trial before an administrative law judge (as ordered above) began on April 14, 2009.[32] On April 17, 2009, Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts testified that the provider was willing to move the channel from the Sports Entertainment Package to a lower-priced base package if the subscriber fee was reduced to 25¢ per month (at that time, NFL Network was charging 75¢ per month). He claimed that overall, Comcast saved $50 million a year in license fees by leaving the channel on its Sports Package, which in turn led to savings for its customers.[33]

On April 30, 2009, NFL Network Total Access correspondent Lindsey Soto reported Comcast would continue to carry the network after its contract expired at midnight as negotiations proceeded. On May 19, 2009, the NFL and Comcast reached a ten-year agreement to place NFL Network on Comcast's Digital Classic package by August 1, 2009 for a monthly price between 45 and 50¢, instead of the 70¢ fee that the NFL originally requested.[34] This deal led to speculation that other cable operators would end their holdouts and try to reach deals that would bring the network to a wider audience.[citation needed]

As of 3 January 2011, the NFL Network was available only on the Digital Preferred or Sports package on Comcast's Xfinity system in Atlanta, Georgia, and not on a Digital Classic package (which does not exist). This is contrary to the above mentioned agreement between Comcast and the NFL.

Time Warner Cable[edit]

On December 20, 2007, the NFL Network proposed to Time Warner Cable to enter into binding arbitration, which would have a neutral third party determine the price and tier for NFL Network on the provider's systems, based on fair market value of the service. The NFL Network noted that the process could take some time and offered to make the December 29, 2007 game between the then unbeaten New England Patriots and New York Giants immediately available to Time Warner Cable subscribers, upon “written agreement to participate in the arbitration process and to be bound by its result.” The network was willing to make the binding arbitration available to cable providers not carrying the NFL Network and for an extension of Comcast's current contract.[35]

Time Warner Cable denied the binding arbitration proposal, saying "the operator has successfully reached agreements with hundreds of programming networks without the use of arbitration. We continue to believe that the best way to achieve results is to privately seek a resolution and not attempt to negotiate through the press or elected officials.” TWC stated that it would be willing to make the network available on its sports tier, as a premium service, or make the game available to its subscribers on a per-game basis, at a retail price set by the NFL, with 100% of attendant revenue going to the league.[36]

On September 21, 2012, the Associated Press reported that Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks had reached an agreement to carry NFL Network.[37] Within hours, both NFL Network and NFL RedZone began to be carried on many Time Warner Cable systems in time for that week's games, with full distribution across the company's systems planned to be completed by September 27, in time for the next Thursday Night Football game.[38]

Cogeco[edit]

On November 10, 2006, Canadian cable provider Cogeco Cable announced that it had reached a carriage agreement with the NFL Network to carry the network on its "Sports & Information Tier". NFL Network had previously insisted that it would only allow cable providers to carry the network on basic tiers; Time Warner Cable stated it would only carry the network on a digital sports tier.[23] This makes Cogeco the only major cable provider to reach an agreement with the NFL Network by placing it directly on a digital sports tier without any repercussions from the network. When it was announced that NFL Network would carry Run to the Playoffs on Cogeco but not on a digital basic tier, it was stated that Cogeco's Sports & Information Tier "has about 30% penetration across all Cogeco subscribers and 60% penetration among Cogeco digital-cable homes."[39]

Insight Communications[edit]

In 2004, Insight Communications reached a carriage agreement with the NFL Network to carry the network on the provider's digital tier, in addition to carrying NFL Network On Demand and NFL Network HD.[40] At first, Insight did not carry the "Run to the Playoffs" games due to the extra surcharge providers pay to carry the games.[39] Insight did not show the first-ever game, between the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs on November 23, 2006, but the game that aired the following week and future games were available due to a long-term agreement that was later reached.[41] Following Insight's January 2012 acquisition by Time Warner Cable, TWC chose to let the carriage agreement for NFL Network and NFL RedZone expire on August 1, 2012, which resulted in the two channels being removed from Insight's systems in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, due to the long-running carriage impasse between the National Football League and Time Warner Cable.[42] They were restored immediately upon Time Warner reaching a carriage agreement with the network two months later.

Dish Network[edit]

On February 20, 2008, Dish Network moved the NFL Network from its "America's Top 100" package to the "America's Top 200" package. Dish Network notified customers that the NFL Network was "moving out of Free Preview into America's Top 200 package" on February 20, 2008. The move cost the NFL network four million subscribers.[43] On February 27, 2008, the NFL Network announced it would file suit against Dish Network for moving the network to "America's Top 200". The move stemmed from the NFL Network's decision to simulcast the 2007 New England Patriots-New York Giants game on CBS and NBC, in addition to the game being shown on the NFL Network.[44] As of 3 March 2008, the NFL no longer encouraged customers to switch to Dish Network on the IWantMyNFL.com website; instead, the network only encouraged customers to switch to DirecTV, Verizon FiOS or AT&T U-verse if their provider does not carry the network or has placed the network on a higher-priced tier.

On January 15, 2009, New York State Supreme Court Judge Rich Lowe ruled in favor of NFL Network, claiming their 2006 agreement for carriage on America's Top 100 package was still valid and Dish Network violated it by moving it to the America's Top 200 package, but he did not order Dish Network to move the channel to the lower package immediately.[45]

On April 10, 2009, it was announced that NFL Network and Dish Network had reached an out-of-court settlement to place the channel on the "Classic Silver 200" package.[46]

Charter Communications[edit]

Charter Communications became one of the first multiple system operators to provide NFL Network, in 2004.[47] Initially the deal called for the network to be carried on Charter's digital-basic programming and included NFL HD and NFL On Demand.[48] However in December 2005, the network had pulled itself from Charter and filed a breach of contract suit against the provider in the New York Supreme Court over contract language regarding distribution.[39] It was reported that NFL Network wanted a 125% rate increase in carriage fees and placement on Charter's expanded basic tiers.[49]

In August 2011, Charter Communications and NFL Network announced that the two parties had reached a new, long-term agreement to carry the NFL Network and RedZone in time for the 2011 season.[50]

Major cable providers not carrying NFL Network[edit]

Background[edit]

The NFL Network is embroiled in disputes with several cable providers. Perhaps the most public controversy is over its removal on some systems owned by Time Warner Cable, the second-largest system in the United States, which occurred in September 2006 and lasted until September 2012. That provider pulled the network from systems that it had purchased from Adelphia Communications and its February 2012 purchase of Insight Communications after those providers' agreements expired.

NFL Network has insisted that it be placed on basic tiers of participating providers and wishes to charge the cable companies a monthly rate of $0.61 per subscriber, while Time Warner Cable and other major cable providers wish to place it on a sports tier. Cable companies feel that a channel with such marginal interest and few live games with filler programming would be tough to sell outside of the football season.[51] NFL Network's position is that the demands are unreasonable and many other providers place NFL Network on a basic tier without subscriber backlash.[52]

2006 free preview[edit]

NFL Network offered a free preview from December 24 to 30, 2006 to Suddenlink Communications systems in West Texas[53] and to Time Warner Cable and Cablevision systems in the New York City area. The package included the Texas Bowl and Insight Bowl, but excluded that week's NFL game between the New York Giants and Washington Redskins, which was shown on NBC owned-and-operated station WNBC (channel 4) (NFL policy dictates that games that are televised nationally on a cable/satellite network be simulcast on a broadcast television station in the markets of the participating teams).

However, Time Warner Cable and Cablevision were only interested in showing the Texas Bowl, which featured the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, who developed strong local appeal in 2006 and barely missed a berth in the Bowl Championship Series. The NFL denied that request and would only offer the free preview if Cablevision and/or Time Warner Cable made the entire preview week available to customers.[54]

TWC then offered to carry the free preview on a digital tier. Cablevision, however, continued to refuse to carry any NFL Network programming other than the Texas Bowl. It even announced that Cablevision would put it on channel 14 (normally occupied by a television listings channel that was used as an overflow feed for MSG Network and FSN New York) at 6:00 p.m. until the end of the network's postgame coverage. The NFL, however, stated that it would not accept that request.[55]

On December 21, however, after New Jersey legislators threatened legal action, Cablevision changed its mind and indeed showed not only the game between Rutgers and Kansas State, but also the entire free preview schedule. Time Warner had made a similar announcement only hours earlier.[56] Suddenlink agreed on December 22 to carry the entire free preview for their customers in West Texas.[53] The free preview did not lead to long-term carriage deals, and the standoff continued between all three cable companies and the NFL Network.

2007 Packers vs. Cowboys controversy[edit]

2007 saw fresh controversy about the NFL Network. That year, the network happened to hold the rights to some match-ups with major implications. The first came in late November when one-loss Dallas hosted one-loss Green Bay. Green Bay's Brett Favre was also having one of the best seasons of his career and would eventually lead the resurgent Packers to the NFC Championship Game. Most fans could not see the game because of carriage restrictions, more noticeable because it involved nationally respected teams in a highly anticipated match-up. This controversy would pale in comparison to the final game the NFL Network would broadcast that season.

2007 Patriots vs. Giants controversy[edit]

In December 2007, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry wrote a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell asking for the league to settle their differences in time for the New England Patriots-New York Giants game on December 29 that would be broadcast on Saturday Night Football. The game was the Patriots' record-sealing win that made them the first undefeated team through the regular season in 35 years. Kerry urged for a solution to be decided upon in time so that Americans could witness "a historic event".[57] An agreement was worked out between the NFL and two of the league's television partners, NBC and CBS, to allow the NFL Network broadcast of the game to be simulcast on those networks, resulting in the first NFL simulcast since Super Bowl I and the first three-network simulcast in the history of the league.[58]

In addition, New York City area MyNetworkTV owned-and-operated station WWOR-TV (channel 9), and Hearst Television-owned ABC affiliates WCVB-TV (channel 5) in Boston and WMUR-TV (channel 9)) in Manchester, New Hampshire, expressed dissatisfaction over the CBS/NBC simulcast, stating it violated their agreements with the network. The stations had already been scheduled to air the game, as per NFL rules. Greg Aiello, an NFL spokesperson, stated that NBC and CBS would not have agreed to present the simulcast without clearing the game nationally, including the aforementioned markets. WWOR came to an agreement with the network and showed the game along with WNBC and WCBS-TV (channel 2) in the New York City market. WCVB also would still televise the game and stated that it was still working toward resolving issues with the NFL Network over additional coverage rights.[59] The result of these arrangements was that viewers in the New York, Boston and New Hampshire areas could see the game on up to four networks.

RCN Corporation, the 12th-largest cable provider in the U.S., stated that the league's deal with CBS and NBC "devalues its contract with the league’s in-house service." Greg Aiello, a NFL spokesperson, said he was unaware of dissatisfaction among NFL Network affiliates over the simulcast and if any were seeking a rebate or other form of compensation because the game was being more widely distributed. If that were the case, he said, those discussions would “take place privately with our TV partners.”[60]

Suddenlink and NFL Network reach carriage agreement[edit]

On August 20, 2010, the National Cable Television Cooperative reached an agreement, of which Suddenlink Communications is a member, to carry the NFL Network on the organization's participating providers. As a result, Suddenlink announced it would offer NFL Network and NFL RedZone and immediately began carrying the channels. Suddenlink expected that the network's rollout to all of its service areas would be completed by or before September 12, the first Sunday of the NFL's 2010 regular season.[61]

Executives[edit]

  • Brian Rolapp - Chief Operating Office of NFL Media (also the former SVP and VP of Media Strategy & Digital Media at the National Football League)
  • Mark Quenzel - Senior Vice President of Programming and Production at NFL Network
  • Eric Weinberger - Executive Producer at NFL Network
  • Lorey Zlotnick - Senior Vice President of Marketing, NFL Network at National Football League
  • Howard Katz - Chief Operating Officer of NFL Films (veteran TV sports executive; former president of ABC Sports; former ESPN Senior Vice President)

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Crawford distributes NFL Network via satellite services Broadcast Engineering November 28, 2008
  2. ^ Seidman, Robert (August 23, 2013). "List of How Many Homes Each Cable Networks Is In - Cable Network Coverage Estimates As Of August 2013". TV by the Numbers. Zap2it. Retrieved September 6, 2013. 
  3. ^ Bryant Gumbel, Cris Collinsworth to announce NFL Network games NFL Network.
  4. ^ "CBS to broadcast eight Thursday night football games in 2014". CBS Sports. Retrieved 5 February 2014. 
  5. ^ "CBS to broadcast NFL games on Thursday in 2014". USA Today. Retrieved 5 February 2014. 
  6. ^ Lombardo, John and John Ourand (2010-02-08). NFL Network to broadcast new arena league’s games. Sports Business Journal.
  7. ^ Insight Bowl coming to NFL Network NFL Network.
  8. ^ Relive The Insight Bowl With Free Online Video Texas Tech Football.
  9. ^ NFL Network to air Texas Bowl NFL Network.
  10. ^ NFL Network to air Senior Bowl on Jan. 27 NFL Network.
  11. ^ NFL Network Going Canadian - CFL games begin airing on network July 1 Broadcasting & Cable July 1, 2010
  12. ^ CFL to air on NFL Network CFL Official Site June 30, 2010
  13. ^ McMillan, Ken (May 25, 2012). No CFL on NFLN, eh?. HudsonValley.com. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  14. ^ Dish Joins Comcast In NFL RedZone - Both Distributors Will Kick Off Scoring Ser2009
  15. ^ Updated: Verizon FiOS Fires Up NFL RedZone Deal - Telco Positions Service As Stand-Alone Network Available On A Full-Season Basis Multichannel News September 10, 2009
  16. ^ AT&T Adds NFL RedZone To Lineup - Telco Will Position Scoring Service On Its HD Premium Tier Multichannel News September 11, 2009
  17. ^ Blue Ridge Enters NFL RedZone - Operator Adds 'Scoring Channel To HD Plus Package Multichannel News September 10, 2009
  18. ^ NFL RedZone on DISH Network – Brings You Every NFL Touchdown American DISH Blog July 30, 2010
  19. ^ Cox Re-Ups With NFL Network, Adds RedZone Multichannel News August 24, 2010
  20. ^ http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/sky-sports-uk-screen-nfl-redzone-live-highlights-1369990.htm
  21. ^ NFLUK.com - Features: Display Features
  22. ^ Barrett, Larry (2008-06-21). "ESPN, NFL Network To Partner: Report". Multichannel News. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  23. ^ a b Cox Adds NFL Network Game Package Multichannel
  24. ^ NFL Network to Appeal Court Ruling for Comcast Media Buyer Planner
  25. ^ Comcast sends NFL Network cease-and-desist note Media Buyer Planner
  26. ^ Jones: Comcast’s NFL Network Deal Expires In 18 Months Multichannel
  27. ^ Reynolds, Mike (2008-02-26). "Court Reverses Field On Comcast’s NFL Network Tier Play". Multichannel News. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  28. ^ Finn, Chad (2009-04-10). "Comcast to Sack NFL Network". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-04-10. 
  29. ^ Comcast to Sack NFL Network, The Boston Globe, April 10, 2009
  30. ^ FCC: Programmers make case for discrimination
  31. ^ FCC Order DA 08-2269
  32. ^ NFL Network's FCC Program-Access Complaint Against Comcast Kicks Off Tuesday - ALJ Will Hear Network's Case Against Operator; Other Huddles To Follow, MultiChannel News, April 13, 2009
  33. ^ Updated: Comcast Would Move NFL Network Off Tier If Service Drops Price: Roberts - Monthly License Fee Of 25 Cents Could Trigger Broader Distribution Multichannel News April 17, 2009
  34. ^ NFL, Comcast reach long-term carriage agreement for NFL Network NFL.com, May 19, 2009
  35. ^ Reynolds, Mike (2007-12-20). "NFL Network Play Call: Time Warner Cable Arbitration". Multichannel News. Retrieved 2007-12-20. 
  36. ^ Reynolds, Mike (2007-12-20). "Britt Balks At NFL Network’s Arbitration Play". Multichannel News. Retrieved 2007-12-20. 
  37. ^ Cohen, Rachel (September 21, 2012). AP Source: Time Warner Cable to add NFL Network. Associated Press. Retrieved September 21, 2012.
  38. ^ Kiesewetter, John (21 September 2012). "NFL Network on Time Warner Ch 1346". Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved 22 September 2012. 
  39. ^ a b c NFL Network Is Still Plugging Holes Multichannel
  40. ^ NFL Network Suits Up Insight Multichannel
  41. ^ NFL Network Scores Insight Deal Multichannel
  42. ^ NFL Network, RedZone Face August 1 Drop on Former Insight Systems, Multichannel News, July 27, 2012.
  43. ^ Reynolds, Mike (2008-02-25). "Dish Sacks NFL Net". Multichannel News. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  44. ^ Reynolds, Mike (2008-02-27). "NFL Network Files Suit Against EchoStar Over Tier Downgrade". Multichannel News. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  45. ^ Judge: Amended Dish Carriage Deal Lead To Live Game Package for NFL Network
  46. ^ NFL Network Remains On Dish's Classic Silver 200 Package After Settlement - Pro Football Service Stays On DBS's Second Most-Penetrated Tier Multichannel News April 10, 2009
  47. ^ Charter Hands the Ball to NFL Network Multichannel
  48. ^ First MSO Touchdown for NFL Network Multichannel
  49. ^ NFL Network Seeks Charter Rate Hike Madison
  50. ^ Charter Communications Lands NFL Network, RedZone TV Newser, August 1, 2011
  51. ^ Outlook Dim for NFL Network, MSOs - 11/22/2006 3:56:00 PM - Multichannel News
  52. ^ Frequently Asked Questions NFL Network.
  53. ^ a b NFL Network and Suddenlink Cable Reach Agreement Texas Tech website
  54. ^ The State
  55. ^ Cablevision, NFL in new Rutgers war of wordsThe Hollywood Reporter
  56. ^ Cablevision to broadcast Texas Bowl ESPN.
  57. ^ Reiss, Mike. Kerry presses on NFL Network The Boston Globe, 6 December 2007.
  58. ^ Donohue, Steve (2007-12-26). "NFL to Simulcast Patriots-Giants Game on CBS, NBC". Multichannel News. Retrieved 2007-12-26. 
  59. ^ Reynolds, Mike (2007-12-28). "NFL Working Toward Local Accords Over Patriots Game". Multichannel News. Retrieved 2007-12-29. 
  60. ^ Reynolds, Mike (2007-12-28). "RCN Calls For Penalty On NFL Network Simulcast". Multichannel News. Retrieved 2007-12-29. 
  61. ^ Suddenlink Kicks Off NFL Network Launch Multichannel News, August 23, 2010

External links[edit]