Give the NFL credit for responding to its critics: Saturday’s potentially historic game between the New York Giants and New England Patriots will now air nationwide on both CBS and NBC, as well as the league’s own NFL Network. The game was initially set to be broadcast only on the NFL Network, which the AP says reaches fewer than 40% of U.S. homes with TVs. Fans cried foul, and today the league changed its plans.
The NFL had big intentions for its channel this season, but it still hasn’t been able to get good cable distribution. The league wants cable providers to put the NFL Network on their broadest tier of programming, which would cost cable companies (and eventually, consumers) a carriage fee for each of its subscribers, whether they like football or not. Cable companies, meanwhile, only want to distribute the channel to some of its digital subscribers, or on a premium sports programming tier, meaning only the subscribers who wanted to pay for more sports access would get the channel. Sports programming already makes up a sizable chunk of peoples’ cable bills: carriers pay $3 per month, per subscriber for ESPN alone.
Trivia from the AP: “This will be the first three-network simulcast in NFL history and the first simulcast of any kind of an NFL game since the first Super Bowl in 1967, when CBS and NBC both televised the first meeting of the champions of the newly merged National Football League and American Football League.”
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