Editor's note: Click here for a quick recap of the controversy between the NFL Network and the cable companies.
The NFL has offered New York-area cable companies seven days of free access to the NFL Network during the last week of the year. This isn't an unusual move by Roger Goodell and company. Networks like HBO ocassionally provide free access in an effort to gain viewers. It's a moneymaking play for networks, because customers who watch the premium content during the free period are more likely to pay for it when the trial run is over.
Make no mistake, the NFL is not acting altruistically here. By making this offer to Cablevision and Time Warner Cable, the NFL Network gets the New York viewers it's been missing, and it gets to associate itself with the word "free" in the public eye. More importantly, the free access period happens to include December 28, the date of the Texas Bowl between Rutgers and Kansas State. The Royal We noted that the NFL Network owns the right to broadcast this game, so by allowing viewers in New York and New Jersey to watch for free, the NFL avoids an intervention from Garden State politicians, who might have otherwised forced the NFL to lower its per-subscriber asking price in order to get Rutgers on the air.
Cablevision realizes all of the above, and has already announced that it has accepted the NFL's generous offer to show the Rutgers bowl game. Left unsaid? Cablevision will not be showing any other NFL Network programming during the free week. It seems like a neat slap in the face to the NFL, which wouldn't generate NY/NJ ratings for its signature content (NFL games). However, it's mostly an empty gesture because the Giants-Redskins game that Saturday night (scheduled for the NFL Network) will be broadcast on over-the-air television in those teams' local market for all to see, as required by law. In other words, New York viewers get the Giants game anyway, probably on channel 11 or channel 9.
Both the NFL and the cable companies continue to screw over their customers. Neither side deserves our support. And as a public service, here's an end run around them both. It's called Sopcast. Download the free software at Sopcast.org, then click over to a blog called Streaming NFL Games, where they'll tell you the code to enter into your Sopcast window to pick up the live feed of the NFL Network, with no commercials!
Enjoy, from your friends at Get Untracked.