Thursday, December 27, 2007

The NFL Network Scores Big

One of the big debates today seems to be about the decision of the NFL Network to simulcast Saturday's Patriots / Giants game not just on the NFL Network but also on CBS and NBC. Some people think that the NFL caved on this issue or that this is some sort of admission that the NFL is losing the battle with the cable companies.

I say - make no mistake - this is a huge win for the NFL Network.

They say that drug dealers have a saying that "the first taste is for free" and I can't help but remember when I was a kid how Showtime and HBO would offer "free" weekends where non-subscribers of the pay channels could see the content for free with the hope that enough would like what they saw to become subscribers themselves. The idea behind both is basically - try it you'll like it. You also know that commercials either asking you to sign up for the NFL Network or asking you to write your cable company will bombard viewers Saturday.

At the very least - the NFL Network is getting a ton of free publicity out of this move. But that's not all the NFL Network is getting though - they will be getting a big revenue boost to go along with the Good Samaritan image. Thanks to the writers strike - everything on CBS and NBC Saturday was either crap or a rerun. Now the two networks get free programming and the NFL Network will be able to charge much more for their ad spots because of the added reach of the broadcast. The ratings will be huge. The revenue windfall for the NFL will be in the millions of dollars.

In addition to getting all this free advertising and PR plus the added revenue - the NFL gets to take the moral high ground as a bonus. Out of the goodness of their hearts the NFL is making this potentially historic game available to everyone with a TV. Now the ball is in the big cable companies court. If they stonewall next year then the NFL can say, "Hey we can't keep giving the product away Mr. Senator man. I'm sure you understand. Now let's talk about why the voters in your state get 5 home shopping channels forced on them but they can't choose a channel they want like the NFL Network. Maybe now is the time to push that ala carte cable bill through Congress. It is an election year you know and that bill would be very popular with your electorate."

This is a tremendous move by the NFL.

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