New NFL Network boss doesn’t see games leaving free TV


The hog may be fat, but it’s not stupid.

In an interview with Peter King of, new NFL Network chief Brian Rolapp says that the NFL won’t be shifting to a pay-only model any time soon.

“We have built a very good thing here by making NFL football available to as many people as possible,” Rolapp said.  “I don’t see free TV going away.”

As long as the folks who own the free TV networks are willing to pay billions to televise the games, free TV won’t go anywhere.  It’s a multi-level win for the league.  Huge money on the front end, maximum exposure on the back end.

Three-hour national infomercials.  Three of them back-to-back-to-back on Sunday and now (for half the season) one on Thursday night.

While the league derives even more revenue from its Monday night cable deal with ESPN, the audience is smaller.  So it’s a device to be used sparingly.  The minute the NFL leverages its current popularity into maximum revenue from cable TV (or even pay-per-view) the audience shrinks and, over time, the interest level drops.

Which means that Mark Cuban has underestimated the NFL.  The NFL realizes that there are limits to what it can do.

“Only the paranoid survive,” Rolapp told King.  “So, yeah, there’s always danger of killing the sacred cow.  The trick is not allowing your concern for killing the sacred cow to paralyze you, and embracing change. . . .  I you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevancy even less.”

Amen to that.  Roger Goodell’s NFL rejects complacency.  Instead, he’s constantly looking for ways to improve the product.

Will that open him up to criticism from those who don’t want change?  Sure.  But if you don’t like criticism, you’re going to like irrelevancy even less.

45 responses to “New NFL Network boss doesn’t see games leaving free TV

  1. I agree that doing nothing is not the right way. Change can defintely be good, but too much change is bad. It’s a fine line and Goodell is on the verge of crossing it if he hasn’t already.

  2. Just look at boxing. A great sport is now a total unknown for most Americans. Used to everyone knew who the heavyweight champ was….now? Nope. Boxing stopped shearing the sheep and started skinning it decades ago. For your sport to flourish, kids need to see it. The love of something from when you are a kid is what leads to revenue later. Just ask these companies selling muscle car parts to baby boomers.

  3. Just look at the sport of boxing for an example of greed killing the popularity of a sport. It was a enormously popular sport when all the fights were on network TV. When they got greedy and started moving the big fights to PPV and closed circuit, the popularity of the sport dwindled. Now boxing is nothing more than a fringe sport. If the NFL ever goes down that PPV road, the same thing will happen to them.

  4. It’s not so much that Goodell is constantly searching for ways to improve the product, he’s trying to cram as much revenue generating content into each week as possible, to the detriment of the players’ health.

  5. The NFL owns the NFL Network. The ‘free’ TV networks pay billions of dollars to the NFL for the rights to show the games. The NFL then turns around and builds a network which competes directly with the ‘free’ TV networks and cable. Forcing players to play a game four days after a brutal Sunday contest is testimony to how far they will go. While the Thanksgiving day games have existed for generations, it was one Thursday out of the season. The NFL allegedly cares about injuries then turns around and forces the players to risk further injury by not having enough rest time between games on a weekly basis.

    What the NFL Network IS able to do is broadcast games in the traditional ‘off season’. It would be a perfect vehicle if the league would establish a developmental spring league. Each division could supply players from practice squads or FA’s to stock the league. Eight teams playing a Friday night schedule from March to May. The games could rotate among the fields of the divisional teams.

  6. I like football but I wouldn’t pay a dime to view your product. I don’t have ESPN either.

  7. How is it free tv? I pay for my cable and I’m pretty sure most other people do too.

  8. “Really now, who doesn’t have espn?”- miamatt

    An increasing number of people who are “cutting the cord.” At some point, it become silly to pay hundreds of dollars a month for 500 channels, when you can get plenty of content on Netflix and other outlets for $8.99. From there, you just figure out when your team plays an NFL Network or ESPN game, and visit your local bar for a fun night out, and consume your savings in a round of brewed beverages.

  9. I second what queeflatifa said. When is the NFL gonna make a “Season Pass” type package to those of us who don’t have direct tv?

  10. queeflatifah says:
    Apr 14, 2014 10:31 AM
    Wish they would offer a package where u could just pay to watch just the games of one particular team that you are a fan of

    They do, it’s called live in the city of that team.

  11. “The NFL realizes that there are limits to what it can do.”

    The NFL Network realizes this. NOT the NFL. Big difference there.

  12. As a retired person, I have to watch my $$$.
    In my case, my cable company, COX, has what they call “bundles” to get you to pay more, {including ESPN}. I don’t use ESPN, until the draft, call Cox, add the extended channels, then call them Monday morning to disconnect.
    I get to see the draft, at about $8.00-$10.00, but cannot afford to keep it.
    “Nothing is free”

  13. The NFL should X their deal with direct tv and allow anyone with any company to purchase the NFL Sunday Ticket. Also it would be nice if fans didn’t want to pay such a high price for every team and every game if they carried a sub package that you could pay per team and just watch all 16 games of the team you purchase.

  14. The NFL seems like the kings of complacency to me. They put very little to no effort to improve the product and there are countless things that could be done that wouldn’t take very much time. But they have created a convoluted system of handcuffs which has anchored down their ability to freely improve the product. They have to go through so many processes for the most basic of changes, and there are still so many changes that should have already been made that aren’t anywhere close to happening.

    There is nothing in this world as a business that has more exciting potential to me as a fan that is doing a more lousy job of being quick to improve the product than professional football!!!!!!!! To say otherwise is a real head-scratcher, how can anybody see it otherwise? I am FLABBERGASTED!!!!!!

  15. Mark Cuban’s point was that more isn’t always better, and that has little to do with broadcasting more games. Cuban’s point, IMO, is the NFL’s inane plans to increase the number of playoff teams. Force-feeding even more mediocrity onto the public can’t be good for the sport.

  16. I wouldnt watch if I had to pay. That being said, kinda hard to figure out all the whining on the page. First off, a CEO is supposed to make his company stronger and more profitable. I prefer Goddell to these other fat ass CEOs that do nothing but collect a check. Secondly, why the whining about injuries, they make millions. HELL the leauge minimum is something like 400,000. Third, it is the players fault that they are getting injured more. Because of the union contract that they voted in, the cut the off season work in almost half. They are getting injured because they are not ready to play. AND please stop whining about Thursday night games.

  17. In prior years, Congress has expressed its displeasure at the idea of the NFL taking its games off of free TV. I’m sure that counts for something.

  18. How is it free tv? I pay for my cable and I’m pretty sure most other people do too.

    Mine is free. It’s called a antenna (hd at that). That’s why I wish abc still had Monday night and glad cbs picked up some Thursday games. Refuse to pay 50-100 bucks every month just to watch 2-3 games a year on cable.

  19. “We have built a very good thing here by making NFL football available to as many people as possible,” Rolapp said. “I don’t see free TV going away.”

    Too bad the same thing can’t be said for Rich Eisen. He needs to go away…….take Primetime with you.

  20. BS…
    The NFL has been testing the waters of pay-per-view games for years.
    Start with the fact they have their own TV Network. Toss in DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket package which has proven that people will pay big money to watch their product.
    DirecTV has even started offering single weekend purchases of S.T. for something like $45 a pop.
    And with the league’s constant whining about unsold seats* and their stupid blackout rules, it’s just a matter of time before the NFL’s lawyers can figure out a way to get around the Federal anti-trust laws and start charging fees for ALL televised games…

    *and yet, lowering ticket prices to increase sales is a tactic that has never entered their minds. Why is that?

  21. “Amen to that. Roger Goodell’s NFL rejects complacency. Instead, he’s constantly looking for ways to improve the product.”

    Like an 18-game season and extended playoffs where every game ends 53-48 on a dubious ref no-call?

  22. Pay Per View is a guarantee of things to come for the NFL.

    If you don’t think so, you haven’t been paying attention to the fact the NFL will do EVERYTHING in it’s power to take every possible dime they can.

    If you don’t think the NFL will exhaust every resource in order to take more money from you, you really haven’t paid attention to what Roger Goodell says is for the “good of the game”

  23. Greed is an incurable disease and they’re going to eventually convince themselves that pay-per-view will work. They’ll leave some less-desirable games on the networks but make all the major match-ups pay-per-view.

  24. here is my situation. i live in rural nowhere United States. my DSL internet activity is just a few notches above dial up. my directv package is as basic as can get. i do get all local, espn, and even NFL network.

    but, i buy the sunday ticket every year so i can watch the Chicago Bears. I live no where near Chicago, but they are my favorite team. A few years ago i was able to purchase Fox-Chicago and CBS-Chicago for about $2 a year. That was great. But, now i have to pay $200+ a year to watch them.

    i would love to continue watching all of my Chicago Bear football games. I haven’t missed one for over 14 years. I’ve been able to record them if i was not home when it was live in order to watch it later in the day.

    as long as i can watch the Chicago Bears on my television, then thats all i want.

    Blackout rules (which hasn’t happened in Chicago yet) really would bother me consider i live no where near Chicago and would have no means to travel to Soldier Field. It would nearly crush my week during the season to not be able to watch a Bears game because not enough people who live in Chicago attend.

  25. Not leaving free T.V. anytime soon, huh. Goodell would make every game a pay-per-view if he thought he could. Oh God I hope he doesn’t read this and get an idea.

  26. bobzilla1001 says: Mark Cuban’s point was that more isn’t always better, and that has little to do with broadcasting more games. Cuban’s point, IMO, is the NFL’s inane plans to increase the number of playoff teams. Force-feeding even more mediocrity onto the public can’t be good for the sport.


    Yeah, it would turn the NFL into the NBA. Oh wait, even if the NFL adds two teams, there are still 18 teams that don’t make the playoffs? How many NBA teams make the playoffs?

    How many NBA playoff games are there? Cuban is the world’s biggest moron and hypocrit.

  27. The NFL Rules all TV …. The media and traditional boring TV despises the NFL… Just watch what damage it is now going to do on Thursday Night to all prime time competition…

    Also , stop crying about the poor NFL players having to play on Thursday … they know the sport the have picked ,, NFL has been playing on Thursday for 50 Years on Thanksgiving … Each team gets a single Thursday game and players do make millions ..

    Goodell has been a very good Commish and the endless bashing on this PFT Board is so off base..

    NFL football is by far #1 King of all sports …. NCAA Football will soon be # 2 in all Sports … American People love watching football…

    Mark Cuban needs to worry about his league … ESPN tries to cram that down our throats but no one really cares..

    And did i mention how Baseball is boring and continues to drop in popularity …. baseball last mattered in late 70’s early 80’s//



    Bring on the 18 game schedule ( it will happen in next few years as Players will not be able to turn down the $$$) !!!

  28. If someone has to come out and say the NFL will be on cable TV and not a pay per view thing, look out for it to be PPV in the next few years (after the next round of TV contracts expire).

    Personally, I would not add a package to my TV to watch football games. The way I see it (Like Boxing and other events), if those who promo0te the sport do not want me to watch it unless I pay extra for it, they don’t want me to watch it.

  29. Free TV? When did TV become free,,,commercials cost money that we watch and then pay for over priced products because of free, commercial, NFL TV,,,get real !!

  30. It’s 2014! We should have an NFL football game every single night of the week!

    Get the world’s finest mathematicians and supercomputers working on a revolving schedule that gives every team an equal rest period between games but allows for a primetime game (or two) every single night.

    You know you want this!

  31. I decided to cut the cord about four years ago, and I haven’t really missed Monday Night Football since. I even sent a written letter back then (yes, I used things called paper, envelope and a stamp) to Bob Iger, and told him that if Disney were to move MNF back to ABC, I would start watching it again, as well as the commercials. He never wrote back. Waste of a stamp.

    So the only time I can watch MNF (or TNF) is when my team is playing in the game. Which is a nice treat once or twice a year.

    I used to love NBA, but very few games are broadcasted now…they’re all on TBS or whatever. So the NBA has been irrelevant to me since I cut the cord. I don’t even watch Finals any more.

    What really pissed me off was that this year’s Final Four wasn’t broadcasted. So I’m about to lose interest in March Madness, too.

  32. I wouldn’t miss any of the major sports if they put them all on cable. Some day they will make it so everyone will need to pay to view it. Overall cable tv sucks compared to what is offered free over the antenna.

  33. Noel, in no way do I defend Cuban. If either the NBA or NHL playoffs were in my backyard, I’d pull down the shades.
    However, Cuban, probably unknowingly, made a valid point about the NFL being “hogs” if it’s applied to expanding the number of playoff teams. Since there are only about six really good teams in the entire NFL, adding more postseason teams only rewards mediocrity.
    The NFL is in the process of programing us into believing that an 8-8 record is postseason acceptable, which ought to make a lot of bad coaches and owners elated.

  34. Very timely article because the NHL playoffs start this week and you need *at least* 3 different cable channels to watch.

    I’m so glad this doesn’t happen in the NFL.

  35. If there are only six good teams in the NFL, how come they don’t win all the superbowls? How come #1 seeds get knocked off by teams that barely made it to wild card status?

    In baseball, with 162 games, and basketball with 81 or whatever, over a season the best teams ARE on top. In the NFL, where there are only 16 games and so many could have gone either way with a penalty or bounce of the ball, the difference between 9-7 (mediocre) and 11-5 (good enough for a bye most years) is sometimes only the difference between a bounce of the ball, dropped pass or one good move by a pass rusher.

    If the NFL adds two teams that are so mediocre that they have no chance, what do you care? According to your theory, they will lose because they aren’t as good as the good teams, but that isn’t true, is it? Teams are not always their record.

    In 2001, the Patriots got home field advantage over the Raiders on a tie breaker because they had identical records, but the Pats beat the bills to get that 11-5 record when a game winning TD by the bills was called back. Fred Coleman was hit so hard he was knocked out and fumbled the ball, but his head was out of bounds when the ball rolled against his ankle before the Bills player picked it up and ran it in. Correct call was no TD because ball was dead. Correct call but a fluke.

    THAT is why you can’t tell the mediocre teams from really good ones by their record.

    let ’em play. The playoffs will determine the champ.

  36. Now if the league could do something about some other big issues like the skyhigh costs of jerseys & attending games, horrible officiating, inconsistent punishments and fines, alleged cheating, certain ownerships not committed to winning and fans getting stabbed and attacked at games.

  37. The more mediocre teams there are in a one-and-done postseason tournament, the better the odds are that a mediocre team will win the whole thing.
    Last season was a rarity: The two best teams in the league played in the Super Bowl, and the league’s best team won.
    I don’t judge teams solely on their records. In 2011, the Steelers compiled a 12-4 record, but did so without a single significant win. That same season, the Patriots were 13-3 … without having to beat a single team that season with a winning record. Not surprisingly, they eventually lost to the 9-7 Giants in the Super Bowl.
    In 2012, the 10-6 Ravens limped into the playoffs en route to winning a Super Bowl.
    I’m tired of seeing mediocre teams win championships. Adding two more playoff teams will only enhance the chances of that happening.

  38. Dude you are crazy…’s just a game who cares who wins and who is the better team…who plays the best and win that match is all I care….period. I do not care if the Browns go 7-9 make the playoffs and beat a previously unbeaten manning and broncos… for a superbowl…..I just wanna watch good ball….you claim you were happy the best team won this year against the next best….plz….The game was a snoozer….give me a real match up regardless of teams record.

    who cares…best team…I want a good game.

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