The NFL is the most powerful television property in the country. Tens of millions of people will watch any game that is aired, even if Curtis Painter starts at quarterback.
Yet when NFL Network broadcasts its Thursday night schedule this year, the games likely won’t be available to the entire country.
John Ourand of SportsBusiness Journal writes that Time Warner Cable and the NFL Network are unlikely to reach an agreement once again this year. A contentious meeting last Friday ended without an agreement for NFL Network or NFL Redzone.
The two sides reportedly got closer to a deal this year, but no plans for future talks have been scheduled.
This embarrassment has now lasted almost a decade for the league.
We’ve heard the league blame Time Warner, but that’s like a coach blaming the weather or an opponent for a loss. The reason behind the lack of a distribution doesn’t matter to the NFL fan. And make no mistake: it’s a huge annual defeat that NFL Network isn’t fully available in New York City, where the league is headquartered.
We’ve heard the league tout Verizon-Fios as another option for cable in New York, but it’s not available in the majority of the city. (Including my building.) And that doesn’t solve all the other Time Warner dominated areas of the country.
The league’s network has done an incredible job creating outstanding programming, but the NFL should not own a channel available in fewer homes than MLB Network, the Golf Channel, and Speed.
Ultimately, the league must know they are on a nasty, unexpected losing streak with this issue. It can’t help NFL Network’s chances of landing another package of games when the next television contracts are handed out.