Suddenlink Launches
August 17, 2009
Multichannel News, By Kent Gibbons

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Broadband policy: Don't let programmers cheat
June 10, 2009
CED Magazine, By Brian Santo

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American Cable Association Comments to the FCC regarding a National Broadband Plan for our Future
June 16, 2009

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Big Ten Boss Should Point at Himself
August 26, 2007
Peoria Journal Star (IL), By Kirk Wessler

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Big Ten Network Denies Fans What is Rightfully Theirs
August 22, 2007
Purdue Exponent (IN), By Tyler Wilson

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Your turn: Let those who really want Big Ten Network pay for it
August 23, 2008
St. Cloud Times, Arthur Thomas

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Big Ten Network: Not Starting Up In A "Big" Way
August 22, 2007
CNBC Sports Biz (NAT), By Darrel Rovell
Online Poll - Vote Here

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Big Ten Shows Its Greed
August 21, 2007
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA), By Bob Smizik

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Buckeyes Football is Not a 'Big' Enough Lure to Sell the Network
August 21, 2007
Dayton Daily News (OH), By Jim Morris

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Big Ten Network Counting on its Fans to Be Suckers
July 3, 2007
Chicago Sun-Times (IL), By Carol Slezak

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Read the Letter from American Cable Association President Matt Polka to Steve Bornstein, NFL's Executive VP for media.

Read the Letter with the NFL Network's Response.

Play Fair, NFL
Voices by Levi Maaia

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Perspectives: The NFL's End Run
Pro football keeps making games less affordable for fans

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All a Part of Its Vision

'New Media' Venture Continues With the Broadcast of League Games

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Specter Vows to Lift NFL TV Exemption

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Did you notice the Atlantic Broadband full-page advertisement on Page C15 in Sunday's Mirror? The cable company explained its position on why it hasn't picked up the NFL Network's eight-game package and made very good points. The war between the cable companies and NFL Network beckons back to 1984 when Music Television led a campaign in which musicians, like Mick Jagger, would shout out, "I want my MTV.'' (Trivia question: Who sang that line in Dire Straits' hit, "Money For Nothing?'') The idea was to get cable companies to add the relatively-new MTV, and the campaign was a huge success. The NFL Network has already tried to copy MTV's campaign by trying to get fans to E-mail their displeasures to The goal by the powerful NFL is to force the cable companies to pay extra for the game package the network offers, which in turn will add to viewers' cable bills. I can see the NFL Network's campaign coming, showing old NFL footage. "These cable companies — they're killing me Whitey!'' Or in John Facenda's voice, "Darkness shrouded the screen. Time Warner forming an eerie tableau.'' It's nice to see the cable companies taking a stand here. Until the league starts adding playoff games to its NFL Network package, the relatively small amount of games on the network aren't worth the extra money it will cost cable subscribers. Tonight's 49ers-Seahawks game won't be available to Atlantic Broadband customers, but the game most likely wouldn't be shown here anyway if it was played Sunday. Even Saturday night's Cowboys-Falcons game wouldn't normally be a guarantee to be shown in this market if it was being played Sunday. On a normal NFL weekend, this area usually only gets five out of 16 games televised, and one of them is the Steelers' game. Under the new arrangements, all of the Steelers' games on the NFL Network will be shown live on KDKA, as was last Thursday's Steelers-Browns game. You can also see the games if you or a friend has satellite or the NFL Ticket package. Steelers fans outside KDKA's reach can make similar arrangements. It would be nice to watch an occasional NFL game on a Thursday or Saturday night, but it just isn't worth dishing out more money. Altoona Mirror

Not everything the NFL touches turns to gold. The first live game telecast on the NFL Network, Chiefs and Broncos on Thursday night, posted a 6.8 cable Nielsen rating. That's similar to a 2.3 network rating, meaning it was seen in 1.8 million households by 4.16 million viewers. It was the No. 1 cable show on Thanksgiving, but tell that to the dogs. The National Dog Show at noon Thursday on NBC pulled in a 5.3 rating that represented 4.1 million households. That's more than twice as many viewers for the canines. Granted, the NFL Network is available to only about 35 percent of the televised nation, but it's still embarrassing to get whipped by the whippets.

Arf-arf. -- November 29, 2006. Jerry Greene. "DOG SHOW 1, NFL 0," Orlando Sentinel

This past Thanksgiving brought fans three National Football League (NFL) games instead of the traditional two games the nation takes in through tryptophan-laden eyelids. An evening game was added this year, the first on the NFL's own cable channel, the NFL Network. Diehard fans rejoiced, no doubt - if they were among the approximate 35 percent of the nation who had the NFL channel available to them.

The decision to move NFL games closer to becoming pay-per-view events looks like a classic case of eliminating the middle man to maximize profit. ESPN paid the NFL $1.1 billion for the rights to broadcast 17 games on Monday nights this season. Bypassing competing cable channels will move the billionaire NFL team owners closer to gazillionairedom, but it doesn't do a thing for the average fan in Armpit, Idaho (or Oteen) who wants to watch a game only to find that the local cable company doesn't carry the channel. -- November 29, 2006. Dave Russell. "NFL venturing into potentially choppy waters by trying to foist another channel on consumers," Asheville Citizen-Times

If there were any doubt heading into the heavily promoted debut of the NFL on the league's flagship channel, it's going to be a long slog for the NFL Network.

Last Thursday's Thanksgiving Day game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos averaged 4.2 million total viewers, according to Nielsen, and a 2.3 household rating. While that's not the lowest rating ever for an NFL regular-season game, coming in just ahead of an Atlanta Falcons-Carolina Panthers game on TNT in 1997, it's also barely a third of what a typical "Monday Night Football" matchup draws on ESPN. ...

... But considering the league turned down hundreds of millions of dollars in rights fees to keep the eight Thursday and Saturday games on its own network this season, it wants much better numbers in the future, and that will depend on distribution. -- November 29, 2006. Toni Fitzgerald. "Dismal first game for the NFL Network. Just 4.2 million watch Chiefs and Broncos," Media Life Magazine

Since when is the NFL about the football? If it were, the league wouldn't be spending so much money on print ads in national newspapers, asking us to give thanks for cable TV companies keeping the eight games on the NFL Network off the air.

Never mind that the NFL is holding the cable companies hostage, or the possibility that the league is seriously overplaying its hand when it comes to the interest in Thursday and Saturday night football in December.

After this week, when games were decided by 17, 28, 24, 18, 27, 15 and 30 points, the NFL might be careful what it wishes for with those ads. … -- November 28, 2006. Billy Witz. "Weekend's Best Came After the Whistles (or When There Wasn't One," Los Angeles Daily News

The NFL Network carried its first regular-season game on Thanksgiving night - Kansas City beat Denver, 19-10 - but the cable operators who have refused to show the channel did not bow to league power and enlist.

Time Warner, Cablevision and Charter are still saying no.

They did not feel pressured by the start of the NFL Network's package of eight Thursday and Saturday night games. Time Warner Cable has 13.5 million subscribers, and only a handful protested by disconnecting their service.

"After the first game, we're in the same position as we're in before it," said Landel C. Hobbs, the chief operating officer of Time Warner Cable. ...

... With so much football out there, Hobbs said, a network offering eight games over five weeks (five Thursdays and three Saturdays) belongs on a sports tier. -- November 28, 2006. Richard Sandomir. "Cable Subscribers Aren't Saying, 'I Want My N.F.L.'", New York Times

In the days before Thanksgiving, callers did not deluge their cable carriers with complaints about not getting NFLN, as the league had hoped, and Comcast and Time Warner stood firm in their contention that the price of the new network is too high. Hearts must have sunk in NFLN offices when Denver-Kansas City, the first telecast, was a dull game; had it been a thriller, football fans who didn't see it would have complained the following day. Anyway the power play failed, and presumably NFLN now will cut its asking price to the market level. It's good to know the National Football League can't get its way in everything! ... -- November 28, 2006. Gregg Easterbrook. "Special to Page 2,"

"I commend Time Warner for taking a stand against the NFL on this one. While I'd love to have the NFL Network, I know a whole bunch of subscribers who couldn't care less. Making them pay the exorbitant fee the NFL is seeking for a channel they'll never watch is ridiculous."
Chris Pearson, Cincinnati -- November 27, 2006. "Opinion - Voices >From Everywhere On NFL Network," Multichannel News

The whole thing may flop. The NFL Network still isn't on in about half the homes it could be, including most of New York City. The league has been heavy-handed in its dealings with cable operators. And by the time people get the station, they might not care to watch more highlight shows and players interviewing players, especially when compared with the furnace roaring elsewhere on the dial. … -- November 24, 2006. Les Carpenter. "On Football," Washington Post

The American Cable Association has called on NFL Network to allow ACA members to run the channel on tiers, allowing individual subscribers to decide whether or not they want to pay for the football network. ...

... In a letter to NFL Network CEO Steve Bornstein, Matthew Polka, president and CEO of the ACA, which represents smaller cable operators with a total of 8 million subscribers, said "if the NFL Network is as popular as you say, then give consumers the choice. If you are right, consumers will pay for it. But rather than giving a choice to our customers, NFL Network is using the market power of NFL television rights to force independent cable companies to distribute the channel to nearly all analog or digital customers." -- November 22, 2006. Jon Lafayette. "Cable Group Wants Leeway to Put NFL Network on Tier," TV Week

Just days before the NFL Network broadcasts its first game on Thanksgiving, one of the league's top executives sat in a Senate hearing room yesterday trying to explain its decision to put games on a channel that many cable subscribers won't be able to see.

Jeffrey Pash, the NFL's executive vice president and legal counsel, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the cable systems should not have to charge viewers extra to carry the NFL Network on its main tier of service even as it is embroiled in disputes with Time Warner, Cablevision and others over that very subject. Those companies believe the league is charging too much (reportedly 70 cents a customer) for the service and they would rather place the NFL Network on a premium sports tier rather than carry those extra costs to their customers. ...

... "The programming is too expensive, the value equation is out of whack," Landel Hobbs, Time Warner's chief operating officer, told the committee. - November 15, 2006. Les Carpenter. "League Official Defends Network," Washington Post.

The National Football League played defense on Tuesday before a Senate committee investigating the nation's premier sports organization's television policies. At issue are several deals the NFL has made or is attempting to make that either grant exclusivity to one carrier or another or dictate the tier on which cable operators can place pro football programming. ...

... Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Penn., is concerned that new TV packages such as the one on the NFL Network and the league's Thursday-Saturday package of games will drive up cable prices. ...

... Specter believes that by fighting to keep the NFL Network and other pro football programming on the most-watched cable tiers, the league is driving up the cost of those tiers for customers who don't care about football.

"They have to pay the fare whether or not they want the coverage," he said.

-- November 14, 2006. Brooks Boliek. "NFL defends TV policies before Senate," Reuters News

The NFL is about to start airing live regular-season games on its own network, and that has Congress a bit curious.

"We're intrigued, to put it mildly, what the NFL has in mind," Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said Tuesday at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Specter grilled NFL executive vice president and general counsel Jeffrey Pash during the 90-minute hearing on sports programming. The hearing focused on how live games on the NFL Network could affect cable and satellite rates and whether the games raise any antitrust issues in connection with the Sports Broadcasting Act.

The NFL Network will air eight live games this season, starting Thanksgiving night when the Denver Broncos play the Kansas City Chiefs. Some broadcast companies, including Time Warner, have balked at paying the higher fee the league is charging to carry the network because of the games.

Time Warner chief operating officer Landel Hobbs testified that the NFL Network's rates are "out of whack" when compared to viewership ratings. - November 14, 2006. Joseph White. "NFL games on NFL Network get attention from Congress," AP.

The NFL Network, the television progeny of a league that knows better than all others how to mint money, is overreaching in its tough-minded campaign to prove its indispensability to fans in the cable TV universe.

The network is overselling the value of its eight-game Thursday-and-Saturday schedule, which will not begin until Thanksgiving....

... (It) is an astonishingly steep value to place on eight games - which will be simulcast on local stations in the teams' markets. ....

... In one newspaper ad, the (NFL Network) cited Time Warner and Cablevision as holdouts and claimed quite hyperbolically that without it "you'll miss the best games and the run to the playoffs." The claim borders on deception, given how many games can be seen elsewhere and that there is no way to know how important they will be. ...

... (Fred) Dressler, of Time Warner, said, "The NFL Network keeps the pressure on because it believes we will ultimately end up charging all our customers to satisfy the few who want these games."

— September 19, 2006. Richard Sandomir. "NFL Network is Counting on Fans to Pay a Lot for a Little" New York Times

Indeed, the NFL itself has moved into the media business, having launched The NFL Network in addition to its own Web site and team sites that show the league and franchises in a mostly favorable light. In other words, you're not likely to find a story about steroids on

..."We know the NFL wants to govern everything it does," said Andrew Lackey, director of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at Arizona State University. "Any business can try whatever it wants, but they have to realize they're part of a public trust and have a responsibility to the public."...

..."My nightmare scenario is 10, 20 years from now, you will not be able to cover the FNL unless you pay a rights fee," said David Elfin of The Washington Times and president of the Pro Football Writers of America.

-- October 4, 2006. Randy Covitz. "NFL, media battle in the trenches over access issues," San Jose Mercury News

Comcast, the nation's largest cable operator, has taken its first steps toward placing the NFL Network on a new digital sports and entertainment tier, telling its systems nationwide that as of Jan. 1 they will be able to offer NFL Network only on this tier, according to company sources.

- September 18, 2006. John Ourand. "Comcast Plan is Setback for NFL Network" Sports Business Journal

Despite the popularity of the NFL, the league's network has yet to catch on with viewers. Many feel that may change in November when it starts carrying live games.

For now, the NFL Network is the nation's 35th most watched cable outlet, Harp said.

In Buffalo, it routinely registers less than 1 ratings point, local media buyers said.

— September 13, 2006. James Fink. "NFL Network cut by Time Warner" Business First of Buffalo

Months before the National Football League opened its 2006 season last night in Pittsburgh, the league's crowded house of network partners, who fill the owners' coffers with billions of TV dollars, were already registering record highs on the acrimony meter.

… NBC is paying tribute to the NFL to the tune of $600 million per year for its new Sunday night package. Now, with the ransom paid in advance, the NFL is holding all major TV players captive on its Island of Overpayment. — September 8, 2006. Bob Raissman. "NFL, Networks full of hot air.” New York Daily News

(NFL Network) must fight the perception that it is the public-relations arm of the league. And since the network is owned by the league owners, that's a tough one to shake. …

… The media aren't happy because they have to sit on the sidelines while the network gains special access to coaches and players. — September 1, 2006. "So far, no leash for the NFL Network." The Philadelphia Inquirer

Time Warner wants the flexibility to put the NFL Network in a sports tier, while the NFL wants it in the expanded basic tier. There is also the issue of price. The NFL reportedly is asking in the dollar-per-sub range, higher than many top-10 cable nets now command. — August 31, 2006. John Eggerton. "No NFL Net Deal As TW Deadline Looms. "Broadcasting & Cable


No battle in the TV business gets hotter than cable-and satellite-TV operators’ struggle over the escalating cost of sports networks. Any operators resisting a network’s carriage or license-fee demands can count on attacks through advertising, sports talk radio, and even local politicians and Congress.

Unfortunately for operators, pro and college sports teams aim to push costs even higher, hatching expensive plans to create networks and beef up existing channels. Ultimately, subscribers end up footing the bill.

Sports networks are the most expensive programming on basic cable.

— August 28, 2006. John M. Higgins. “Cable's Pricey Ticket.” Broadcasting & Cable

Twobillsdrive.comThe truth of the matter is that die-hard football fans, whom the NFL network appeals to, are only a small percentage of viewership. What the NFL wants to do is to charge all cable subscribers for its games. … this is a raw deal for cable subscribers and that the best solution is to charge the people who want the NFL network for the NFL network, and to not charge the people who have other interests besides obsessing about sport. — August 28, 2006.

“The question about the NFL has always been: When would the league go too far in its lust for world domination, and spoil what made it special? And now we have the answer: Thursday. …

… If you guessed the schedule's spread to Thursday has something to do with that devil television, you're right - the Thursday games post-Thanksgiving will be among the first batch of regular-season games to be shown by the NFL Network. …

… I vow not to watch any of the NFL's Thursday games this season, and I ask you to join me in this boycott.

Let's keep Sunday as the day when American life is dominated by pro football, the way God intended. — August 24, 2006. Kevin Modesti. “It's not NFL's day.” Los Angeles Daily News

The petitioning will soon begin, but it must have one condition. If you complain to Time-Warner that you want (NFL Network), you surrender your right to complain when the new bill arrives. — August 22, 2006. Rob Daniels. “Networks vs. Cable, a fight fans will lose.” News-Record- Greensboro, NC

“Already, the (NFL) Network has ignited a war with cable operators, which are content with the supply of games and balk at the prospect of raising cable rates yet again to pay for the price increases … NFL network is pushing.” — August 14, 2006. “NFL Goes Long.” Broadcasting & Cable

“The NFL is now selling off to TV what’s left of its sense of common decency. It’s increasingly doing what once would have been out of the question.” —August 13, 2006. Phil Mushnick.“Night Falling on NFL Fans.” New York Post

“Every other major sports league seems to have their packages available on cable and the NFL refuses to, and then turns around and they blast the cable carriers with negative advertising.” — August 11, 2006. Brian Bassett,

NFL bans local TV from sidelines? Get Real! Disgruntled in Denver
The National Football League is banning most local TV news cameras from the sidelines of football stadiums on game days. ...TV photojournalists on the sidelines can no longer be there.

However, the decision has made many in the media, and not just in television, upset at the NFL.

Mark Kiszla, a columnist for The Denver Post, says he is concerned newspaper photographers will be the next to go. “Somewhere down the line they're going to ask all of us to pay for the right to get the images, pay for the right to talk to the players. The freedom of speech is gone.” – August 10, 2006. (Denver)

The cameras of local television stations will be banned from NFL sidelines during games this season under a new league policy that has some Atlanta sportscasters fuming.

“The NFL has made a terribly bad business decision,” WSB-TV sports anchor Chuck Dowdle said. “I can assure you as a result of this new rule Atlanta Falcons coverage on WSB will go down, simply because we will not have the video to support the stories we want to do.”

…Dowdle said his “gut feeling, which the NFL denies” is that the rule is “the first step toward trying to drive fans to the [league-owned] NFL Network and force cable operators to carry it.” — August 8, 2006, “NFL flags local TV cameras; New rule banning affiliates’ game footage elicits protests.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution

NFL Network Fumbles
When the NFL Network launched its $100 million ad campaign against cable companies, including Bright House Networks, it used a picture of (Jon) Gruden to deliver the message in the bay area. But that wasn't okay with the Bucs. In fact, Bucs officials scolded the nearly 3-year-old network and demanded it remove Gruden and refrain from any future references to the team in its battle. "We made the league know if they have a dispute with another company, that's not our fight," Bucs chief operating officer Eric Land said. "They have to involve us. They really are duty-bound to involve us when they start using pictures, images, logos - those kinds of things. They got ahead of themselves a little bit and corrected the situation. "NFL Network wants Bright House to offer its channel to its more than 1 million customers. The cable company wants to offer it to interested subscribers for a monthly fee. NFL Network will televise eight live regular-season games beginning Thanksgiving night with Kansas City vs. Denver. But none involve the Bucs, whose entire season can be viewed by Bright House customers. — Rick Stroud, August 6, 2006, St. Petersburg Times

“Cable subscribers should root for Time Warner and fear the NFL Network like a blitzing linebacker. If the NFL Network becomes as powerful as ESPN some day, you know who eventually will be thrown for a loss with constant rate increases to offset new programming costs? You, the subscriber.” — Alan Pergament. August 4, 2006. “Subscribers Have Much at Stake in NFL Spat.” Buffalo News

“It’s all about the money. The league will go where they believe they can make the most money.” — Jim Spence, President, Sports Television International. August 4, 2006. "Networks Carve Out TV Turf, May Pose Challenge to ESPN, CBS” Bloomberg

"…The disease that eventually infects all these sports is called over-saturation. … Making more games available to the public could also backfire - big-time. There are people with intimate, and longtime, connections to the NFL who see trouble down the road. John Madden,… is concerned. He believes adding more games to the TV mix will overexpose the product. Madden said the new NFL Network package could disrupt the natural rhythm of the current schedule (Sunday afternoon/evening and Monday night), which builds anticipation that consistently produces double-digit TV ratings. "I don't want us (the NFL) to become like college basketball (or) college football where you have games on every night," Madden said. "That's the direction the NFL is going in and I really don't know if it's a great direction." Al Michaels, Madden's play-by-play partner, agreed that if you throw too many coals on the fire someone might get burned. "At some point you are going to reach a point of over- saturation. Is this it? I don't know," Michaels said. "That's the danger that lurks. If you are going to make things less and less special then, at a certain point, you begin to pay the price…" — "NFL Network may offer too much of a good thing" New York Daily News, February 6, 2006

“(The NFL) painted the NFL Network as this little, startup, information-only entity. Then they changed their minds, and they will change their minds again. They will cut out the middleman and bank the profits themselves. They will cut out the networks’ ability to pick announcers and do journalism, and they will shape the message exactly the way they want it. … The next time around, the league will take another piece of the TV package away from somebody. ” — Rich Hoffman. February 4, 2006. “Watch the NFL Grow More Powerful.” Philadelphia Daily News

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