Hero Or Villain: No Winners In The NFL Network Vs. Comcast Feud

Glenn CardSenior Analyst IApril 8, 2009

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 03:  Ed Lasater of Jacksonville, FL, fan of the New England Patriots shows support for his team outside the stadium prior to Super Bowl XLII against on February 3, 2008 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

If Comcast and NFL Network don’t make up and come to an agreement before May 1, 2009, then the only way you’ll be able to see any of the eight scheduled NFL Network games is to subscribe to satellite provider DirecTV.

I have no great love for the cable companies, as for years they have held their customers in contempt and continue to overcharge us for their service...or lack of service, in many cases. In this day and age, they are a necessary evil.

I have Comcast as a cable provider, but only have “Basic Tier” programming and therefore do not receive NFL Network access. I was forced to try watching a NFL Network-covered game last year through the NFL.com website, and I was less than impressed.

There was far too much coverage of the announcer’s analysis and little or no coverage of the game. The NFL Network needs only to observe how FOX, ESPN, NBC, and CBS cover games in order to get a clue on how it should be done.

In my opinion, the NFL Network is not ready for prime time.

Additionally, I’m not looking forward to the NFL Network gaining any more clout. The network is not about increasing the quality of production for the fans or the viewers; it’s about increasing the size of the bankrolls in their pockets.

The NFL figured out why the other networks are willing to bid and pay for the rights to promote and cover the games. It’s the income from the advertising dollars that has drawn the NFL into creating its own network.

With their own network, they only have to pay for the overhead of production costs to gain a larger share of the advertising revenue. If you were to ask me, they are not spending enough on production costs yet.

With this venture by the NFL, we can further understand why Roger Goodell is pushing so hard to clean up the product image. Advertisers prefer that the product vehicle be above reproach in order to appeal to the largest target audience.

What exactly does that mean? The show can’t be too messy and it can’t upset the viewers. Advertisers hate to hear the consumer finds that a production that advertising dollars were spent on is offensive in some way. The threats to pull the advertising results in an effort make the production more politically correct, more pleasing to the consumer.

It becomes a little more apparent why rules are being changed to tone down what has always been a brutal game. Big game hits are being frowned upon as much as big player egos. We wouldn’t want to offend anyone watching.

What the NFL didn’t expect is that Comcast would balk at paying additional expense for the NFL Network more than they do for other network broadcasts. The NFL wants to treat Comcast like all the other networks and expect them to be happy to carry NFL games, despite the cost.

Well, all I have to say is: NFL, you have met your match when it comes to greed.

Now this issue is being played out in the court of public opinion in a he-said-she-said opposition. We as the fan and consumer are beseeched from both sides to lodge our complaints with the other offender.

Personally, I feel the cable company owes me from long years of abuse.

As for the NFL Network, I couldn't care less if I ever watch another televised game on their network. As a longtime fan, I detest what the creation of the network has precipitated in the morphing of my beloved sport.

I fear that the slow transition that is being implemented into this sport eventually will leave it as a pale watered-down facsimile of what once was the great game of football.

I care not for either side in this dispute, because either way it goes, the fan is the loser.