Comcast and the NFL have been locked in a power struggle since the inception of the NFL Network. If you haven’t heard about it, here are the basics: NFL Network wants Comcast to carry its channel on the basic cable tier. But it also wants to charge a higher franchising fee than many other networks, despite the fact that it carries only 8 NFL games per season, and therefore has compelling programming only on Thursday nights for two months a year. Comcast claims that it would have to charge all of its subscribers a higher price to move the NFL Network to the basic tier, based on the higher franchising fees. This is bad business for both entities - Comcast irritates its customers by forcing them to upgrade to a premium sports tier for the NFL Network, and the NFL is losing a tremendous amount of advertising revenue because their games reach a very small audience on the premium tier.
Regardless of who you think is wrong or right in this particular display of greed and self-importance, I hope you can agree with me that this is a business deal between two corporate entities that should be solved (or not) between themselves. Unfortunately, for a while now, the FCC has been involved, and apparently, the FCC wants no part of the NFL-Comcast mess. I can’t blame them - these rich crybabies need to sort out this problem on their own. Real Americans have real needs from their government in these difficult times, and they don’t involve watching football on Thursday nights.
Thing is, as this fight drags on and the economy continues to sink, both sides are going to lose out. We pay a hefty bill to Comcast each month for Internet and TV service, and I’m starting to take a long look at the nickel-and-dime charges they tack on for every cable box, and HD service on each additional TV. These prices were bumped up earlier this year, and our bill just continues to inflate. I’m about to scale back on the cable boxes and sign up for a Netflix subscription. For $8.99/month, you can have unlimited streaming movies to your XBOX 360, with many in HD. That beats the pants off any Comcast premium channel price.
As for the NFL, they need to quickly get their head out of the clouds and realize that they’re lucky to be in a dominant position in the world of sports. They need to negotiate resonably with Comcast and the other cable operators to get more of their games on TV. They also need to start listening to their fans about on- and off-field issues like end zone celebrations (we like them) and continued reinstatement of thugs and hooligans like Adam Jones (we don’t like them). Sports will be an important escape for Americans as we navigate through the new depression, and there needs to be a focus on making the games fun and competitive, instead of merely lining the NFL’s already deep pockets.