Thursday, November 23, 2006

Three helpings of NFL … for some

Jim Williams, The Examiner
Nov 23, 2006 3:00 AM (5 hrs ago)
Current rank: # 5 of 6,976 articles

WASHINGTON - Today is Thanksgiving and that means turkey and football. For some, there will more of both.

An extra helping of turkey is up to you. What NFL games you’ll have access to is not as simple. Everybody will be able to see the traditional games with Miami at Detroit starting at 12:30 p.m. on CBS, followed by Tampa Bay at Dallas at 4:15 p.m. on FOX.

But the much-anticipated debut of the NFL Network’s prime-time game coverage kicks off later in the evening with the Denver traveling to Kansas City. The pregame begins with “Total Access Live” at 7 p.m. Bryant Gumbel and Cris Collinsworth will call the game beginning at 8.

However, even if you have cable in the Washington/Baltimore area you may not be able to see the game. You will need to check your channel guide or cable company’s Web site to find out.

The NFL Network is on Comcast as well as Cox, this region’s two major cable systems. But it is on the digital tier and in some cases is part of the “sports pack.” Dish Network and DirecTV subscribers will be able to watch the game.

This area is lucky. Interested viewers at least have a chance to watch the games. Fans in New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas, St. Louis, Cleveland, Buffalo, Tampa Bay, Houston, Green Bay, Cincinnati, Charlotte and Indianapolis will not even have a choice. The NFL Network is not carried on Time Warner, Cablevision or some of the smaller cable systems around the country, causing anger among NFL fans.

Cable companies and the NFL Network have been locked in a heated battle over the price-per-subscriber as well as the network’s channel placement on the popular extended basic platform most of the 90 million people in the country get in their homes.

The NFL Network reaches approximately 40 million of the country’s 112 million cable subscribers and the Washington-Baltimore market is in much better shape than the rest of the country. More people get the NFL Network in this area than almost anywhere else. By the way, the same holds true for other niche sports networks like CSTV, NBA-TV, FOX Soccer Channel and Gol TV.

Much like it works with ESPN’s NFL contract, the Kansas City and Denver markets will see the game on local TV.

If you don’t get the NFL Network, you always have radio. WTEM and SIRIUS will air the games.

Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer.


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