That is unless you live in one of the approximately 60 percent of US households that do not get the NFL network as part of their cable package or live in the respective TV markets of the Packers and Cowboys. Tonight’s game which pits two teams with some of the biggest national fan bases in the league and whom are both 10-1 becomes just the latest pawn in the big boy pissing contest between the NFL and cable providers that believe that a handful of games a year doesn’t justify the addition to their basic cable package and in my case it isn’t available at all no matter what package you get (thanks Golden West, may I have another?).
Do you believe that after this week the furor over this will end just as it did last year? What will be the reaction if the final week of the season finds the New England Patriots at 15-0 and facing a very good New York Giants team in what could be a history making game as they go for the first undefeated regular season since 1972? I will give you one guess as to which network has that game and if you guess CBS, FOX, NBC, or ESPN you would be wrong (thanks Golden West, may I have another?). If that happens, today’s fan backlash will be just a drop in the bucket.
Some might think based on my less than nice comments regarding my cable provider, Golden West, that I am blaming the cable operators exclusively for this issue. Of course the fact that their rates are ridiculously high, their HD offerings total 9 channels not even including our local FOX affiliate, and their basic and digital offerings aren’t much better might be clouding my judgment somewhat but I think the NFL is just as culpable. Like Golden West (thanks Golden West, may I have another?), current estimates have approximately 75 million households without easy access to the network but still the NFL decides to place 8 regular season games on the channel each year despite their claim that the NFL is the game for the masses. Which masses would those be Commissioner Goodell, the ones that can afford to subscribe to your partner in the financial rape of the masses, Direct TV and their NFL Sunday Ticket?
The cable TV industry is a mess and needs an overhaul. Many in Congress are starting to agree and the FCC is now looking into adding more regulations to the industry. Would I like to have the NFL network available without having to cut down 100 year old trees so I could have access the satellite networks? Of course but is the extra cost that would surely follow for 8 games a year of which only a few would be interesting to me and 7 months of useless content that is shown during the off season be worth it? Probably not and because of the NFL and Cable TV operator’s greed and stubbornness, the only losers will end up being their customers but because both pretty much have monopolies on their respective markets, they can get away with it and you can bet we will be having this same argument for years to come. But heck at least I still get the RFD and PTL networks…