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NFL Network is an Americanmarker television specialty channel dedicated to American football. It is owned and operated by the National Football League (NFL) and is also shown in Canadamarker and Mexicomarker. It was launched November 4, 2003, only eight months after the league's 32 team owners voted unanimous to approve its formation. The league invested $100 million to fund the network's operations.

NFL Films produces commercials, television programs, and feature films for the NFL. It is a key supplier of NFL Network's programming, with more than 4,000 hours of footage available in their library. Thus, much of the network's highlights and recaps feature NFL Films' trademark style of slow motion game action, sounds of the game, and the talk on the sidelines.

Beginning with the 2006 season, the channel began to broadcast eight prime time regular season NFL games, called the Run to the Playoffs. In addition to live games, the network has covered the NFL Draft since 2006; its coverage has competed with ESPN and ESPN2.

The NFL Network logo changed to match the new NFL logo, which premiered officially at the 2008 NFL Draft. Unlike the updated logo for the league, the NFL Network's new logo saw more subtle changes such as using a darker shade of blue and changing the "NFL" font to match that of the new NFL logo.

The NFL Network works from studios in Culver City, Californiamarker, near Los Angelesmarker, and broadcasts their world-wide feed from the CNN Centermarker in Atlanta, GAmarker.


  • Steve Bornstein, President and CEO; also, the NFL's Executive Vice President of Media (also the former Chairman of ESPN, and served as president of ABC)
  • Steve Sabol, President of NFL Films (sports filmmaker, winner of multiple Emmy Awards)
  • Howard Katz, Chief Operating Officer of NFL Films (veteran TV sports executive; former president of ABC Sports; former ESPN Senior Vice President)
  • Judy Fearing, Senior Vice President of Consumer Marketing (former ESPN and Pepsi marketing executive)

Live NFL games

The original NFL Network logo with the curly "L", used from 2005 until 2008.

NFL Network televises eight live regular season games during the season. They run on either Thursday or Saturday nights, beginning Thanksgiving evening. Five games usually air on Thursday nights and three on Saturday nights. These games also aired on broadcast TV in the primary media markets of the participating teams, although the home team's market broadcasts the game only if it is sold out 72 hours before game time.

Veteran TV announcer Bryant Gumbel was the play-by-play announcer, and former Fox and current NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth was color commentator for six games. In 2006, Collinsworth missed two Saturday games due to his NBC commitments. Dick Vermeil was his replacement in that event. Collinsworth won the Sports Emmy for best game analyst for his work on the NFL Network telecasts. Marshall Faulk and Deion Sanders replaced Collinsworth when needed in 2007.

These games are also broadcast on Westwood One Radio in the United Statesmarker and Canadamarker, by Sky Sports in the United Kingdom, and usually by TSN in Canadamarker (except for games involving the Buffalo Bills, which are instead carried on CITY-TVmarker).

In August 2007, the network televised the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New Orleans Saints due to NBC wanting to cover, the later cancelled, preseason game in Chinamarker.

The 2007 schedule began on Thanksgiving night, November 22, with a game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta's Georgia Domemarker. Gumbel and Collinsworth returned as the booth announcers.

On April 11, 2008, Gumbel resigned as play-by-play announcer. Four days later, the season schedule was released, with the Run to the Playoffs schedule modified. It will now begin the first Thursday in November instead of Thanksgiving and there will be no game in Week 17.

Bob Papa, who is also the radio voice of the New York Giants on WFANmarker, has announced the games since 2008. Until the 2008 season, Cris Collinsworth also announced on the network. He has since been hired to replace John Madden on NBC games, who retired on April 16, 2009. Matt Millen, former general manager of the Detroit Lions, was named Collinsworth's replacement shortly thereafter.

Other football

NFL exhibition season

NFL Network televises 54 NFL exhibition games each August. Some are aired live, but a majority of these contests air on a tape-delayed basis, using the home team's local broadcast for the first half and the visitors' broadcast for the second half and overtime if necessary. In 2007, eight live broadcasts were scheduled; two of them were produced by NFLN using the Run to the Playoffs production crew and the other six used the format just mentioned.

College football

NFL Network televised the 2006 Insight Bowl between Minnesota and Texas Tech on December 29, 2006, from Tempe, Arizonamarker. The game featured the biggest comeback in NCAA Division I-A bowl history, with Texas Tech coming back from a 38-7 third-quarter deficit to win 44-41 in overtime. The network has made the game available for free online viewing at its site.

The network also broadcast the Texas Bowl in Houston, whose promotion rights are owned in part by the NFL's Houston Texans. It was played December 28, 2006. Rutgers defeated Kansas State, 37-10.

The network also showed a college all-star game after the season. The Under Armour Senior Bowl, in Mobile, Alabamamarker which was played on January 27, 2007. NFL Network was also expected to show the Las Vegas All-American Classic in Henderson, Nevadamarker on January 15, but the game was canceled due to lack of sponsorship.

On April 14, 2007, the network showed the Nebraska Cornhuskers' spring football game.

The network again aired the Insight, Texas, and Senior bowls in late 2007 and early 2008. In addition, it showed two games between historically black colleges and universities in the 2007 season, one of which was the Circle City Classic at the RCA Domemarker in Indianapolis, Indianamarker.

High school football

NFLN aired two broadcasts of high school all-star games in June 2007: the Bayou Bowl between players from Texasmarker and Louisianamarker on June 9 (NFLN carried the FSN Southwest feed live), and the Big 33 Football Classic between players from Pennsylvaniamarker and Ohiomarker on June 16 (sharing its' feed with CN8 (now Comcast Network) and cable outlets in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvaniamarker and Ohio.


International distribution

  • Canada - NFL Network is also available on most major service providers in Canada, including Bell TV, Shaw Direct, Rogers Cable, and Shaw Communications. Regular-season NFL broadcasts will be blacked out in Canada to protect TSN, which has purchased exclusive Canadian rights to the Thursday-Saturday package.

  • The United Kingdom- It was reported that the UK could have received the channel in 2008. It has recently begun a test broadcast on the Sky Digital platform. However, due to program clearance issues and the network's programming violating UK advertising guidelines the launch was canceled.

NFL Network HD

NFL Network HD is a 1080i high definition simulcast of NFL Network that launched in August 2004.

It is available nationally on DirecTV and Dish Network, and regionally on Verizon FiOS, and some Comcast and Cox Communications cable systems.

Shows that air in HD include NFL Total Access, Around the League, NFL GameDay, Live Wire, Sounds of the Game, Starting 11, Run to the Playoffs, and NFL Replay.

In mid-October 2008, studio shows began to air in "enhanced HD", and have contained extra scores and stats on the right side of the screen that are only seen on the HD version of the channel. This is similar to the format of ESPNews HD. Other content that's only available in 4:3 standard definition is shown with stylized pillarboxes, or for some footage, blurred edges. On May 1, 2009, NFL Total Access began to air in full HD without pillarboxes or enhanced graphics. NFL GameDay began airing in HD the following September.

Red Zone Channel

The Red Zone Channel is a special channel with extended highlights, available on Sundays, premiering September 13, 2009. It is hosted by Scott Hanson, who explains and describes situations in transition from game to game. So far AT&T U-Verse, Comcast, Dish Network, Verizon FiOS, and Blue Ridge Communications have picked up the new channel.

ESPN Partnership

In a report from The Wall Street Journal Steve Bornstein, chief executive of the NFL Network, has been in “high-level discussions” with NFL and Disney executives including CEO Robert Iger and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. An analyst quoted in the report suggested combining NFL Network with ESPN Classic which has a wide distribution on expanded basic cable line-ups but attracts a modest audience. ESPN could use its market weight and demand more than the 16 to 17 cents per month that it currently receives from ESPN Classic. These talks are dead.

Distribution controversy

The NFL Network and various cable companies have been involved with carriage or lack of carriage of the NFL Network. The NFL Network has created controversy of its own with its site by encouraging cable customers to make the switch to DirecTV to receive the channel instead of asking cable customers to contact their cable provider and demand the network. The site even goes as far as to ask Comcast customers to switch because of their recent decision to place the network on a digital sports tier. ( has since been pulled from the Web and now redirects to the NFL Network main site. However a new similar website has been launched, visit for details.)


On November 10, 2006 Comcast announced it would add NFL Network on digital tiers in time for the eight-game Thursday- and Saturday-night package. On August 6, 2007 Comcast moved NFL Network from the digital tiers to the Sports Entertainment Package. This led to a courtbattle between NFL Network and Comcast, with the ruling in favor of Comcast but the NFL Network appealed the ruling. Comcast sent NFL Network a cease-and-desist letter to stop encouraging subscribers to leave Comcast. Comcast's agreement with the NFL Network ends in mid-2009. In February 26, 2008 an appellate court in New York reversed field on a judgment made in May 2007 that allowed Comcast to move the network from its second most distributed tier to the company's sports tier. At the time a court date has not been set. Four judges at New York’s Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, ruled the language "concerning additional programming package was ambiguous and that neither party has established that its interpretation of the relevant contracts is a matter of law." Comcast's deal with the NFL Network was set to expire on April 30, 2009. According to messages sent out to Comcast, Midco, and some Cable Systems customers with or without set-top boxes, NFL Network may be removed from some customers channel lineups. The message said: "In spite of out efforts to continue carrying NFL Network/NFL Network HD, the NFL may terminate our rights. As a result these networks may be removed from lineups as soon as 5/1." On April 10, 2009 it was confirmed that Comcast would remove the channel on that date due to failing to reach a carriage agreement. However, as of April 30, 2009 NFL Network has posted that they would keep running on Comcast so both sides can agree to terms on a good contract.On July 30, 2009 NFL Network was made available to lower tiered Comcast Digital Cable subscribers.

NFL Network later filed a discrimination case against Comcast with the FCC, claiming that since Comcast doesn't charge extra for its owned and operated sports channels Versus and The Golf Channel, it's unfair to charge extra for NFL Network. On October 10, 2008, the FCC ruled as follows:

The Comcast trial
The trial before an administrative law judge (as ordered above) began on April 14, 2009.

On April 17, 2009, Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts testified that Comcast is willing to move the channel from the Sports Entertainment Package to a lower priced base package if the subscriber fee was reduced to 25 cents per month. NFL Network currently charges a 75 cents per month fee. He claimed that overall, Comcast saves $50 million a year in license fees by leaving the channel on its Sports Package, which in turn leads to savings for its customers.

On April 30, 2009, NFL Network Total Access correspondent Lindsey Soto reported Comcast will continue to broadcast NFL Network after their contract expires at midnight as negotiations proceed.

On May 19, 2009, the NFL and Comcast reached a 10-year agreement to place NFL Network on Comcast's Digital Classic package by August 1, 2009 for a price between 45 and 50 cents, instead of the 70 cents the NFL originally requested. This deal has led to speculation that other cable operators will end their hold outs and try to reach deals that would bring the network to a wider audience.

As of November 30, 2009 the NFL Network is available only on the Digital Preferred package on Comcast in Atlanta, GA and not on a Digital Classic package (which does not exist). This is contrary to the above mentioned agreement between Comcast and the NFL. The Preferred Package is being advertised by Comcast as an additional $9.99 per month for 12 months which includes the NFL Network in high definition.

Cox Communications

Announced on November 10, 2006, Cox and the NFL Network made a carriage agreement for Cox to carry the NFL Network on their Sports & Information Tier. NFL Network had previously insisted that it would only allow cable providers to carry the network on basic tiers, Time Warner has stated it will only carry the network on a digital-sports tier. This makes Cox the only major cable provider to make a deal with the NFL Network by placing the network directly on a digital sports tier without repercussions from the network. When it was announced that NFL Network would carry Run to the Playoffs on Cox but not on a digital basic tier, It was stated that Cox's Sports & Information Tier "has about 30% penetration across all Cox subscribers and 60% penetration among Cox digital-cable homes."

Insight Communications

Insight and the NFL Network made a carriage agreement for the network to be placed on Insight's digital tier in 2004. The deal also included NFL Network On Demand and NFL Network HD. At first, Insight didn't carry the Run to the Playoffs games due to the extra surcharge providers pay to carry the games. Insight did not show the first-ever game, between the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs on November 23, 2006, but the next week's game and future games were available thanks to an agreement that was later reached.

Dish Network

On February 20, 2008 Dish Network moved the NFL Network from its "America's Top 100" package to the higher "America's Top 200" package. Dish Network notified customers that the NFL Network was "moving out of Free Preview into America's Top 200 package" on February 20, 2008. The move cost the network four million subscribers. On February 27, 2008 the NFL Network announced it would file suit against Dish Network for moving the network to "America's Top 200". The move stems from the NFL Network's decision to simulcast the 2007 New England Patriots-New York Giants game on CBS and NBC in addition to the game being shown on the NFL Network. As of March 3, 2008 the NFL no longer encourages customers to switch to Dish Network on the site instead the network only encourages customers to switch to DirecTV, Verizon FiOS or AT&T U-verse if their provider doesn't carry the network or has placed the network on a higher priced tier.

On January 15, 2009 New York State Supreme Court Judge Rich Lowe ruled in favor of NFL Network, claiming their 2006 agreement for carriage on America's Top 100 package is still valid and Dish Network violated it by moving it to the America's Top 200 package, but he did not order Dish Network to move the channel to the lower package immediately.

On April 10, 2009, it was announced that NFL Network and Dish Network have reached an out of court settlement to place the channel on the "Classic Silver 200" package.

Former agreements

Charter Communications

Charter Communications was one of the first MSO's to provide NFL Network in 2004. Initially the deal called for the network to be carried on Charter's digital-basic programming and included NFL HD and NFL On Demand. However in December 2005 the network pulled the signal from Charter and filed breach of contract suit against Charter in New York Supreme Court over contract language regarding distribution. It was reported that NFL Network wanted a 125 percent rate increase and placement on expanded basic tiers.

Major cable providers not carrying NFL Network

This list is organized from largest to smallest cable companies.


The NFL Network is embroiled in a dispute with several cable companies. Perhaps the most public controversy is over its removal on some systems owned by Time Warner Cable, the second-largest system in the United Statesmarker, which occurred in September 2006.

NFL Network has insisted that it be placed on basic service and wish to charge the cable companies a monthly rate of $0.61 per subscriber, while Time Warner and other major cable companies wishes to place it on a sports tier. Cable companies feel that a channel with such marginal interest and few live games with filler programming would be tough to sell during non-football season months. NFL Network's position is that demands are unreasonable and many other providers place NFL Network on a basic tier without subscriber backlashes.

2006 free preview

NFL Network offered a free preview from December 24 through December 30, 2006 to West Texas area cable systems run by Suddenlink Communications and to New York area cable systems run by Time Warner Cable and Cablevision. The package included the Texas Bowl and Insight Bowl, but not that week's NFL game between the New York Giants and Washington Redskins, which was shown on WNBCmarker. (NFL policy dictates that games that originate nationally on a cable/satellite network be simulcast on a broadcast station in the participating teams' market.)

However, Time Warner Cable and Cablevision were only interested in showing the Texas Bowl, which featured the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, who developed strong local appeal in 2006 and barely missed a berth in the Bowl Championship Series. The NFL denied that request and would only offer this free preview if Cablevision and/or Time Warner make the entire preview week available to customers.

Time Warner then offered to carry the free preview on a digital tier. Cablevision, however, continued to refuse to carry any NFL Network programming other than the Texas Bowl. They even announced that they would put it on channel 14 (a TV listings channel used for overflow sports from MSG Network and FSN New York) at 6:00 p.m. until the end of the network's postgame coverage. The NFL, however, stated that it would not accept that request..

On December 21, however, after New Jersey legislators threatened legal action, Cablevision changed its mind and indeed showed not only the game between Rutgers and Kansas State, but also the entire free preview schedule. Time Warner had made a similar announcement only hours earlier. Suddenlink agreed on December 22 to carry the entire free preview for their customers in the West Texas area. The free preview did not lead to long-term carriage deals, and the standoff continued between all three cable companies and the NFL Network.

2007 Packers vs. Cowboys controversy

2007 saw fresh controversy against the NFL Network. That year the network turned out to possess the rights to matchups with major implications. The first came in late November when one-loss Dallas hosted one-loss Green Bay. Green Bay's Brett Favre was also having one of the best seasons of his career and would eventually lead the resurgent Packers to the NFC Championship Game. Most fans could not see the game because of carriage restrictions, now even more noticeable because it involved nationally respected teams in a highly anticipated matchup. This controversy would pale in comparison to the final game the NFLN would broadcast that season.

2007 Patriots vs. Giants controversy

In December 2007, Massachusettsmarker Senator John Kerry wrote a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell asking for the league to settle their differences in time for the New England Patriots-New York Giants game on December 29 that would be broadcast on Saturday Night Football. The game was the Patriots' record-sealing win that made them the first undefeated team through the regular season in 35 years. Kerry urged for a solution to be decided upon in time so that Americans can witness "a historic event." An agreement was worked out between the NFL and two of the League's TV partners, NBC and CBS, to allow the NFL Network broadcast of the game to be simulcast on those networks, resulting in the first NFL simulcast since Super Bowl I and the first three-network simulcast in the history of the league.

In addition WWORmarker "My 9," the MyNetworkTV affiliate in the New York Citymarker area, and ABC affiliates WCVBmarker 5 in Boston and WMURmarker 9 in Manchester, NH expressed dissatisfaction over the CBS/NBC simulcast stating it violated the agreements. The stations had already been scheduled to show the game, as per NFL rules. Greg Aiello, a NFL spokesperson, stated that NBC and CBS would not have agreed to present the simulcast without clearing the game nationally, including the aforementioned markets. WWOR came to an agreement with the network and would air the game along with WNBCmarker and WCBSmarker in the New York City market. WCVB would still televise the game and that it was still working toward resolving issues with the NFL Network over additional coverage rights.

RCN Corporation, the twelfth largest U.S. cable company, stated that the league's deal with CBS and NBC "devalues its contract with the league’s in-house service." Greg Aiello, a NFL spokesperson, said he was unaware of dissatisfaction among NFL Network affiliates over the simulcast and if any were seeking a rebate or other form of compensation because the game was being more widely distributed. If that were the case, he said, those discussions would “take place privately with our TV partners.”


Suddenlink Communications has a series of articles regarding NFL Network on Suddenlink. Suddenlink claims that they want to carry the network and be fair to the customer who want the network and to the customers who don't want the network. The site claims that Cox can carry NFL Network on a sports tier and Suddenlink wants the same option and by placing NFL Network on the sports tier allows customers who want the network to pay for it or a deal similar to the agreement similar to Comcast. The site further claims that NFL Network doesn't have the kind of year-long programming that justifies putting it on basic cable services. Suddenlink claims to be in active negotiations with the network and hopes to add the channel prior to the start of their eight primetime games in 2009. On November 4, 2009 Suddenlink stated that NFL Network made them an offer that they verbally accepted. After the two started to exchange contracts the deal fell through. Suddenlink claims that the network returned a few weeks later with an unacceptable proposal. Suddenlink has stated that they will accept any of their past offers to the network or the most recent offer they verbally accepted.

Binding arbitration

On December 20, 2007 the NFL Network proposed to Time Warner Cable to enter binding arbitration which will have a neutral third party determine the price and tier for NFL Network on the operator’s systems, based on fair market value of the service. The NFL Network noted that the process could take some time will offer the network and the Dec. 29 game between the currently unbeaten New England Patriots and New York Giants immediately available to Time Warner Cable, upon “written agreement to participate in the arbitration process and to be bound by its result.” The network is willing to make the binding arbitration available to cable providers not carrying the NFL Network and for an extension of Comcast's current contract.

Time Warner Cable denied the binding arbitration proposal saying "the operator has successfully reached agreements with hundreds of programming networks without the use of arbitration. We continue to believe that the best way to achieve results is to privately seek a resolution and not attempt to negotiate through the press or elected officials.” Time Warner stated that it would be willing to make the network available on their sports tier, as a premium service, or make the game available to its subscribers on a per-game basis, at a retail price set by the NFL, with 100% of attendant revenue going to the league.

See also

Notes and references

External links

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