Ready for some football (if you have the network)?

Well, here we are. The Bengals are playing tonight (Thursday) on the NFL Network. If you're outside the primary market (i.e. Cincinnati) and don't get Channel 5, WLW-TV, then you're basically forced to a radio broadcast and NFL.com's GameCenter. You have no chance at seeing, perhaps, the best game of the season. People have offered the cable providers a sense of support by not demanding the network onto their cable systems. For example, as anticipated Thanksgiving night, there was hardly any demand from the customers to the providers to show the network like they had hoped afterwards. It's not like the network provides quality broadcasts anyway, like this NY Times article states:

Viewers who saw the Kansas City-Denver game heard Bryant Gumbel struggle in his first N.F.L. play-by-play stint. He sometimes hunted for the right words (too often saying a running back was "stacked up"), erroneously reported downs and yardage several times and rarely offered excitement in his voice. (Bornstein said Gumbel had the flu.)

Cris Collinsworth’s estimable analysis showed the value of being an N.F.L. game commentator in the past and being on studio programs since the 1990s. Gumbel, who is known mostly as the co-host of "Today," is also the host of "Real Sports" on HBO, but he had never called a professional football game.

Fans who saw Thursday’s game also noticed an obtrusive score strip that hung too low from the top of the screen, a first-down line that was shown erratically, and the pleasant emergence of Marshall Faulk, an analyst on the pregame program "Total Access." Faulk is a smart voice who made his colleagues Deion Sanders, whose act grew tired on CBS, and Steve Mariucci, a former N.F.L. coach, shrink in significance.

Insight systems just picked up the NFL Network which serves people in Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.

Cable Subscribers Aren’t Saying, ‘I Want My N.F.L.’ [NY Times]
NFL Network works to catch on [Enquirer]
Insight picks up NFL Network [Enquirer]

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