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Monday, January 30, 2021

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It didn’t take a genious to figure out that, when the NFL came up with the NFL Network, it was setting itself up to eventually become its own broadcast partner.

The future is now, as the league gave its network an eight-game package of games to broadcast, starting next season.

That the broadcasts aren’t exclusive isn’t particularly relevent. This is basically a seeding technique. The idea is to establish the concept of the NFL Network as a source for real-time NFL game broadcasts. This should increase demand by cable and satellite subscribers for carriage, which will increase the Network’s reach. The more mainstream its broadcast arm becomes, the more leverage the NFL has when negotiating future television deals with the other networks. In fact, the negotiation round that the NFL engaged for this package — which included Comcast, Verizon, ESPN and other television outlets — resembled nothing so much as a test case for that maneuver. It’s turned out to be a successful one.

The ultimate goal is to elbow out third-party broadcast partners completely. The stakes are high: If you think the billion-dollar broadcast rights deals the NFL has been getting were impressive, imagine how much they’ll rake in when they’re selling their own advertising slots.

I wouldn’t have guessed the sports-league-as-broadcaster evolution would have accelerated this quickly. But the NFL has certainly upped the ante.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/30/2006 09:03:00 PM
Category: Football | Permalink |

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  1. baseball has tried it (remember “the baseball network?”) and failed. the nba has tried it (nba tv) and it has been sluggish at best.

    the nfl comes out with their own network, and kaboom!

    the nfl is still the gold standard of sports leagues. seemingly, it can do no wrong.

    now, how will it dodge the looming labor strife?

    Comment by anon — 02/03/2021 @ 03:32:46 PM

  2. Well, The Baseball Network was a “network” in name only; just another marketing term for a broadcast package. Not really the same thing.

    If the NFL Network works, it’ll probably give a boost to NBA Network, the nascient NHL Network and whatever MLB cooks up.

    Then again, some, including John Madden and Al Michaels, think that overexposure might sabotage the NFL’s successful formula. Even discounting that Madden and Michaels are working for the competition (broadcasting-wise), it’s a legitimate concern. Will NFL games be as must-see if they’re regularly being played practically every day of the week?

    Comment by CT — 02/03/2021 @ 05:04:14 PM

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