Cable Battle With NFL Network Is Nothing More Than Grandstanding By Both Sides

By Gregory Moore
Updated: November 9, 2007

The NFL and several cable companies including Time Warner are in a battle of epic proportions. Will the consumer ultimately become the biggest casualty in this war that is really being fought on a business front?

The NFL and several cable companies including Time Warner are in a battle of epic proportions. Will the consumer ultimately become the biggest casualty in this war that is really being fought on a business front?

SAN ANTONIO — This week it seems that Time Warner and the NFL Network are determined to make their little feud of whether to give NFL fans what they want on the cable system an issue for state legislators to decide on.

If you get a moment, you might want to read the Denton County Register article that appears on the sports page before you read this viewpoint and familiarize yourself with what is going on. If you want to skip it, I’ll give you the synopsis of what is happening: the NFL Network is warring with advertisements that Time Warner does not care about its customers.

It has solicited the help of smaller carriers like Grande and GVTC, along with Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones, in getting their message across. Time Warner on the other hand has issued various statements saying things like they are glad their spokesperson is someone like Manu Ginobili, etc.

This battle isn’t new and it has been going on since the NFL Network came online back in 2003. Time Warner, along with Comcast, has decided to either not air the network or put it on a different tier package. What is truly disheartening in this war of words is the fact that the consumer is getting hosed no matte which way they look at it.

Because Time Warner is steadfastly saying that they do not want to inconvenience their customers by charging them an additional fee and put the NFL Network on a different tier, many of their customers are going over to bars or sports bars to watch the upcoming games that the Dallas Cowboys will be aired on that network.

While that may be great for the household consumer, the business consumer is also at a quandary because believe it or not, the NFL Network for a business is extremely high.

To prove my point, I went to the DirectTV website for business and pulled up information about their charges to such establishments as the bars, nightclubs, sports bars and restaurants.

Here is what I found out and the information is going to be based upon a seating occupancy of 300 people/guests.

• Yearly cost for an establishment that is a bar/restaurant to have Direct TV so that patrons can watch the two Dallas games on the NFL Network will cost the establishment approximately $3,500 a year.

• If the establishment wants the NFL Sunday Ticket, the only service that allows you to see ALL of the NFL games on a Sunday game day, the yearly cost for that option is an additional $3,329.00.

I don’t want to delve into anything else on the business services sheet because it wouldn’t be a part of this article. But for the sake of this argument, what you as a consumer need to understand is that if a business had to spend upwards of almost $8,000 a year just to have a ability to show a sporting event that may only happen on that network twice a year, the cost of that service will be passed onto you.

These facts is what Time Warner and the NFL Network fail to tell consumers. Even though the satellite companies offer the channel, TWC would essentially be doing the same thing that DirectTV or DishNetwork are doing and that is make this channel their “profit” channel on a clientele that knows they are stuck paying the high prices. Eventually those prices are filtered down to the consumer whether we like it or not.

State legislators need to understand this point of contention too. After all aren’t we also the constituents of the very people Time Warner and the network are trying to influence? And just how important is the NFL Network to begin with? In this writer’s opinion it is really a non-factor.

Take a look at these points: • If the network had to be a stand-alone product, meaning without the NFL subsidizing it, the product would fail miserably.

• Because ESPN and Fox Sports does such a great job at covering the league, many of the stories that come from the NFL Network are overkill; not really original in nature.

• The network is not truly independent of the league. In general, sports networks like the NFL Network or NBA TV can never be truly independent because they would lose the backing and financing of the leagues they cover if they were able to do hard-hitting stories.

• The audience for the NFL Network is not in the millions but in the thousands thus making it a secondary product in the broadcasting scheme of things.

Now am I trying to make an argument for Time Warner and others who want to put this network on a more expensive programming tier? Possibly but it is not like the cable company is doing us any favors in giving us the programming that we would like.

For many African Americans in San Antonio, they want TWC to add TV One to the broadcasting tier that carries many Hispanic stations including the LA-TV. Time Warner has all but said that TV One is something that not too many customers would be willing to pay for and yet they have catered to a bigger market, meaning the Hispanic market, simply because they are, well, bigger in size.

However, many in that demographic have wanted TV One because they like the programming. It is that same stance on TV One that TWC is trying to take on the NFL Network and that stance is very disingenuous and insulting to the consumer public.

GTVC, Grande and other smaller cable companies in this region may believe they are helping their own cause but with their limited viewer ship, all they have done was alienate the main group of cable subscribers.

Add to that point the mere fact that if you own a business with a business account for cable, having the NFL Network by Grande or GVTC isn’t cheap either. The cost for even having that channel available to your customers may cost you as much as $1,000 a year easy because you may have to pay for a sports tier that you don’t want.

So as consumers, let’s get both sides to give us the straight answers. No matter how they spin this argument, we the cable consumer or the satellite consumer or even just the television watcher are getting hosed left and right.

The cost for the NFL Network doesn’t really have anything to do with the residential market folks. Time Warner is trying to hook the business clients to pay for this package and that is a bad idea.

If they are successful, the cost of going to your favorite restaurant and having a sit down meal will definitely go up and that is something they just aren’t telling anyone because the truth would eliminate their arguments in the general public.

Editor’s note: The illustration that is portrayed on the website is for editorial content only. In no way is BASN or this writer saying that the NFL Network or Time Warner has any affiliation with the Marvel Comics characters depicted by the original artist of the illustration or of the creative elements that are owned by Marvel Comics.