One of my stories for tomorrow focuses on the NFL Network, which is showing live regular-season games for the first time. The Seahawks-49ers game Thursday night is the fourth of eight such late-season games scheduled for Thursdays and Saturdays down the stretch.
NFL Network is presently in about 41 million homes. For reference, consider that ESPN is reportedly in about 95 million homes. NFL Network is still getting started, of course, and that 41 million figure is growing. But for now, millions of fans do not have access to games previously available to a wider audience.
Fans in the Seattle-Tacoma area are in luck because NFL rules require games be shown in the local markets. We’ll be getting the game on KPCQ in addition to NFL Network. But the league’s efforts to reach a wider audience are meeting resistance from some cable providers. The league wants its programming available on basic cable, which reaches the widest audience. Cable providers, citing fees charged by NFL Network, want to make the network available through premium-tier packages. The battle is getting out of hand, as these dueling Web sites (1, 2) demonstrate.