The NFL Network: A little full of themselves?
At first, I was a normal fan that asked the simple question: "Why in the world wouldn't Time Warner pick up the NFL Network?" I figure if the cable company added a charge to their sports-tier network that it would be warmly welcomed by fans and subscribers. Ask someone why they'd want a satellite that's prone to outages from thunderstorms and I'm sure that NFL programming weights heavily on that.
Ask the NFL Network why they're not on Time Warner, and they'll tell you to please "ask them. Time Warner is insisting we be carried as an extra charge Sports Tier package which will cost you more money. We think your cable bill is enough and you should not have to pay any more to get NFL Network. No other operator charges extra for NFL Network, nor should Time Warner. NFL Network has been working hard for the past three years to get local cable companies to carry NFL Network. If Comcast, the largest cable company in the country, and DIRECTV and Dish Network, the largest satellite providers can all carry us, why not Time Warner?" (NFL.com)
From a fan's perspective, the NFL Network just says you don't have to pay anything while the cable companies absorb the costs for running the network. What they fail to tell you is that you will indirectly absorb the increasingly expensive programming. The NFL Network and Comcast came up with an agreement on August 16th, 2004. At the beginning of 2005, some Comcast customers began to see an average 1.2 percent increase in their rates. (KeepPhillyCompetitive.com)
Massachusetts saw the same thing as Comcast raised rates, on average, by 5.9%.
So while they are right, Comcast doesn't charge their subscribers directly for the NFL Network, the increased rates across the board do affect customers.
My point isn't rate increases for cable/satellite providers; that's about as certain as paying taxes. It's the contention that the NFL makes you think it's all free. All the providers listed by the NFL have seen at least one rate increase since their respective partnerships.
So in what relation does all this have with the NFL Network? Since announcing they would broadcast eight regular season games in 2006, the NFL Network raised their rates on cable companies by 250%; which translates to $137 million. The NFL is asking for a price that's in the top-ten cable networks and to be on basic cable. Keeping it on the sports tier ensures that only those that subscribe to the sports tier are charged.
Time Warner thinks the price is ridiculous for, essentially, only eight NFL games. Time Warner's goal is to reduce the rate of growth on programming costs for all their customers; not just appeasing NFL fans. Do you accept that?
In the end, it's the fans that will lose this battle. If you support Time Warner picking up the NFL Network, with all their demands in tact, then expect an increase in your already unbelievable bill. If you don't support it, then don't expect to see the NFL Network. Regardless, it's you that will lose either way.