The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

November 25, 2007

Fans lose in decision not to air game

The National Football League’s game of the year will be played Thursday night when the Dallas Cowboys take on the Green Bay Packers, both 10-1, at Texas Stadium.

And most of the football-viewing television public will not see a moment of the game.

The game will be broadcast exclusively on the NFL Network, which is available in only about 35 million of the nation’s more than 111 million homes with television sets.

Customers of SuddenLink Cable in Enid will not see the game. Satellite TV customers will.

Jerry Jones, outspoken owner of the Dallas Cowboys, is upset many fans around the country won’t get a chance to see this game, which will give the winner inside track for home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

The NFL, it seems, is trying to force cable operators to carry its channel, which presents wall-to-wall, 365-days-a-year coverage of the NFL, right down to live coverage of mini camps and the annual draft combine workouts in Indianapolis. The league wants the cable companies to carry the NFL Network as part of its expanded basic service.

The league is blaming cable operators for denying fans the right to see games like the Cowboys-Packers showdown. The cable operators blame the league for being greedy, saying there isn’t the demand for a channel that fills many hours with live coverage of football teams practicing.

Executives at CBS, Fox and NBC likely are fuming. These networks pay billions for the rights to broadcast NFL games, and the league has the audacity to put high-profile games like the Dallas-Green Bay clash on its own network. They have remained silent, however, wisely not wishing to bite the hand that feeds their advertising coffers.

Of course the real losers, as usual, are NFL fans in areas where the NFL Network is not available. The Dallas-Green Bay game is not the only marquee matchup the NFL Network will broadcast this season.

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