The National Football League (NFL) and its NFL Network are in trouble again with the US Senate.
A group of 13 U.S. senators wrote a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell urging the league to make the games televised on the league-owned NFL Network more widely available.
Among those signing the letter, dated Tuesday, were Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), the committee’s ranking Republican who was highly critical of the NFL and Goodell earlier this year for the league’s handling of the videotaping scandal involving the New England Patriots.
The NFL responded in a letter to the Senate on Wednesday saying:
The NFL said that it was following a TV policy that it has had for the two decades games have been in primetime on ESPN, first on Sundays and now on Mondays.
“That same television policy makes the NFL the only league that has all of its regular season and playoff games on free TV, including our limited number of cable games that are also televised on free TV in participating markets,” the NFL said Tuesday.
At issue, the major cable companies are not happy with the fees being charged to carry the NFL Network and they want to pass the fees on to their subscribers by making the NFL Network available as a package upgrade. In Houston, with Comcast Cable, you have to order their Sports Entertainment Package and pay an additional $7.95 per month to access the NFL Network. The Senators want NFL Network to be part of “basic cable” and not an additional package. The real problems begin next week when the NFL Network starts carrying regular-season NFL games on Thursday nights and millions of Americans will not have access to those games.
The senators want quick action so fans in every market receive free TV access to games played by their closest team or the team it has been historically aligned to. Eight games will air this season on the NFL Network, which is available in less than 40 percent of households. The league is in a dispute with major cable companies over whether they should carry the channel as part of a basic package.
In a statement, the NFL said the goal is to provide the NFL Network to a national audience, but the “goal has been undercut by several of the largest cable operators.”
You bet they want quick action. After all, there are only a couple of days left until the election.
Last year, I stood on principle and refused to pay extra for the NFL Network. I believed, and still do, that I spend too much money on NFL tickets, jerseys, memorabilia, hats, jackets, decorations, etc. and paying $5 for Cokes in the stadiums on game day. The NFL seems to be the modern-day version of Count Dracula; sucking all the cash they can out of fans until they are dead or become one of them. At some point, with a worsening economy, they will go too far and realize they are breaking the backs of those who support the league the most. The problem is, I’m addicted to football.
This year, I caved and paid the fees. My boys discovered the NFL Network over the summer at their grandparent’s house (they have satellite and the NFL Network is part of the basic package) and they became hooked. The NFL Network does a great job of coverage and they also have condensed games on Tuesdays that are very cool. The boys liked it so much they agreed to pay the extra monthly fee to get the NFL Network in our house. How could you say no to that?
Hence the problem; we want the NFL Network, but we don’t want to pay for it. All I can say is, “Go Senators!”