Comcast Battles NFL Network
By Dave Hughes
Things are getting "testy" between local cable TV giant Comcast and the NFL Network. The latter wants the former to carry the pro football channel on its basic service, not on a pay-extra digital sports tier. And if the carriage issue is not resolved before May 1, the popular network will have to be dropped by the local cable giant due to contractual issues.
“We have offered to carry the NFL Network under the terms of our current affiliation agreement while the litigation that the NFL brought against Comcast continues, but the NFL has not accepted our offer,” John Demming, Comcast’s director of corporate communications, recently told the Washington Examiner’s Jim Williams. “We believe our proposed extension is in the best interest of our customers and NFL fans so that they can continue to have the same access to the Network that they now enjoy. Because the NFL has not accepted our offer, we are required by regulations to notify our customers of the possibility that the NFL may terminate Comcast’s right to carry the Network."
However, the NFL told Williams, in a statement: “Comcast refuses to sit down and reach an agreement with the NFL Network on a contract extension that would make the Network more widely available to a larger number of subscribers on its cable systems without the extra monthly fee that Comcast now sets and collects.”
The pro football league added, “Comcast had carried NFL Network to a larger number of homes without the extra fee during the first three years of our agreement. We have more than a month to negotiate with Comcast and reach a new agreement similar to the contracts NFL Network has with more than 300 other cable operators, Telco and satellite companies. We hope that Comcast will act responsibly, negotiate with us and keep the best interests of the fans in mind.”
The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network will provide more access to Oriole fans with a new partnership with manager Dave Trembley. He’ll be featured in new interactive segments at www.MASNsports.com, taking fan questions, appearing in regular video segments and promoting charitable works.
When the season wraps up, Trembley will continue updating fans on the state of the franchise with regular offseason updates. MASN will continue to carry Trembley's postgame press conferences during the network's postgame show, "O's Xtra," and will provide access to the archive of clips with video-on-demand at www.MASNsports.com.
Plus, MASN's Roch Kubatko will be discussing ongoing Orioles news, baseball fundamentals and his thoughts on the ballclub's performance each week. He will also respond to fan questions as part of a new feature on MASNsports.com.
MASN is also doing a series of features with Washington Nationals manager Manny Acta, who will answer fan questions and host a regular video blog in English and Spanish as part of a new interactive feature at MASNsports.com.
Speaking of Comcast, the local cable giant will add the new MASN-HD network on April 1 (Channel 247 on most systems). It will also be carried on Verizon's FiOS systems and on DirecTV. You'll still find standard-def MASN and MASN2 on the same channels as they were on last year.
And finally, the National Football League has extended its exclusive "Sunday Ticket" deal with DirecTV through the 2014 season. The NFL's current $700-million-a-year agreement with DirecTV was set to expire in 2010. The new deal is estimated to be worth $1 billion a year.
For the past 11 years, Dave Hughes has been running www.DCRTV.com, which features Baltimore and Washington radio and TV news, gossip and commentary.