Contributed by: filbert Monday, August 20 2007 @ 02:40 PM CST
Time Warner Cable Inc. and Cablevision Systems Corp. are refusing to carry the NFL Network, launched in 2003, on the league’s terms. Charter Communications Inc., whose controlling shareholder owns the Seattle Seahawks, stopped carrying the network in late 2005 because of a contract dispute. Comcast Corp., the country’s largest cable operator, yanked the NFL Network out of millions of homes after a bitter battle. The NFL tried to stop Comcast by suing, but lost. The case is now on appeal.
At the heart of the debate: how much pro football is enough for America’s already robustly served TV fans. The NFL, which has long been able to command top dollar by packaging its games myriad ways, says viewers are still insatiable. But after years of budgetary woes caused by the skyrocketing cost of football, cable executives say they — and viewers — have had enough. Die-hard football fans can now watch as many as 16 regular-season games a week via broadcast, cable and satellite operators.
I’m not sure that it’s a good thing for us lowly consumers for sports leagues (and, parenthetically, content-producers of any type in our media age) to exclusively own their distribution media.
On a related thought: Are the people who were outraged about Rush Limbaugh’s brief stint as an NFL studio analyst for ESPN lining up to protest Keith Olbermann’s upcoming gig on NBC’s Sunday night football programming? Just wondering . . .