The Wall Street Journal ($) checks in on pro football’s NFL Network cable channel and finds it struggling. That’s because many of the country’s biggest cable operators — Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Charter, Cablevision — either aren’t carrying the channel or forcing customers to pay extra for it. The network, owned by the NFL itself, says it’s available in 44 million homes but operators say the number is less. And whatever the number is it’s less than what the NFL was looking for.
A good reminder, if anyone needed it, of how much control and clout the cable systems have in determining what gets into viewers’ homes. Pro football is as popular as tv programming gets, but that alone hasn’t been enough to persuade the cable guys to take the channel.
This is also why News Corp.’s bid for the Wall Street Journal had little to do with launching its new business news channel. The fate of that channel’s success has nothing to do with the Journal brand, and everything to do with getting cable guys to carry it. News Corp. has already been able to get the new channel into more than 30 million homes largely because of the power of its Fox News channel. WSJ.