November 21, 2007

Maine Not Part of New England Says NFL

I'm reading with a heavy heart today that what might be a historic game for my beloved Patriots won't be shown on TV here in Maine.

Why? Because two giant corporations--the NFL and Time Warner--are having a pissing match over who's the bigger dog. The NFL has placed the December 29th match up between the Pats and the NY Giants on their own NFL Network in their grand plan of trying to make it more difficult for the average fan to watch their local teams.

The NFL wants its fledging network on Time Warner's basic cable...basically forcing everyone who gets cable in Maine to pay for football whether they like it or not. If the NFL had faith in it's product it would allow Time Warner to carry the NFL network as part of a premium package and let those of us who are willing to pay for it pay for it.

Seth Palansky, the communications director of the NFL Network, and a man who obviously has never looked at a map, said,

The sad truth in this case is that if your outside the home market, regardless of whether you get the channel (on cable) or not, you won't see it.

Ummm...they're the freaking NEW ENGLAND Patriots.

It's rare for me to get on the side of giant cable companies--just check out any of my posts on Net Neutrality--but the NFL is dead wrong on this deal. The last time they did something this bone-headed and fan-unfriendly is when they gave exclusive rights for the NFL video game EA, killing competition and reducing EA's need to improve their product.

I know this post won't do any good; I know that if the Pats go 15-0 I'll be heading down to Boston to watch the game with my brother Doug.

However, the league should know that the only reason they make so much freaking money is because of the fans; fans they seem to be going out of their way to gouge. If enough of us get tired of being treated like the children in a messy divorce, we'll go elsewhere. Hell, I'm just about ready to try and figure out NASCAR.

In the meantime, Doug, fire up the grill and I'll see you on the 29th of December.

Rich Brooks
(Still a) Pats Fan

For more on this story, check out The NFL Cares About All the Fans...Who Subscribe to the NFL Network.

Posted by at 08:13 AM

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Comments

In this season of giving, during a particularly painful time in our American history, Mr. Palansky and the NFL are a disappointing illustration of greed. The NFL could be positioning itself as a good corporate citizen that values their strong and loyal fan base. It would be overly dramatic to draw a direct connection between football and our rich country however, the truth is they have been and always will be inextricably linked. Historically weak leaders have lost touch with thier constituents and the NFL appears to relish in continuing that tradition with their most recent revenue producing ideas. Perhaps the NFL doesn't want to be remebered as the league that made the same mistake the MLB did when it passed on the opportunity to purchase ESPN for $30 million back in it's formative, lean years? They most certainly wring their hands as they review projections of what could be. That will be difficult if their New England fans, with long memories, aren't there to pay. And Mr. Palansky, a geographically challenged mouthpiece, and his suits, are punishing those very people.

The NFL may have forgotten what a fan means. But, I predict, the fans won't forget this most recent chain of events, any time soon.

Posted by Barbara O.D. Smith
November 21, 2007 10:04 AM

I'm sorry the point is being missed in this story. The NFL feels the same way the fans do. NFL games should be made available broadly and affordably. The games should be available to ALL the fans who want to see them, not just the fortunate few who can afford the 400% markup the cable company wants to charge you. Time Warner believes NFL Network belongs on a sports tier -- a tier that is only subscribed to by 2% of all cable customers. Isn't there more than 2% of people in Maine who have an interest in the NFL? Until Time Warner recognizes the other 98%, NFL Network is right to stand up to the cable bully. The cable company shouldn't use the popularity of football to charge a 400% mark-up to its customers -- all the revenue that falls directly to the cable company. That's not right. There's 250 other TV providers that offer NFL Network on a basic cable package, including Dish Network and DirecTV -- and NONE of them have raised rates to customers after adding the channel. The bottom line is cable companies want to exploit your passion for football. Isn't your cable bill enough already? Don't you get enough channels forced down your throat without an option to take them or not? Would you trade one of the eight shopping channels to get one channel dedicated to football year-round? If you answered yes to any of these, it's time you take a stand against your cable company.

Posted by Seth
November 21, 2007 11:07 AM

Seth,

I appreciate you taking the time to comment on the blog. However, your argument doesn't hold any wayter.

If you cared about people being able to watch your product, you'd let it be shown on our local CBS, Fox or NBC affiliate, as part of our basic package or for free over the airwaves. You wouldn't hold a game like this hostage.

Sure, Time Warner isn't in it for the good of mankind, but trying to make them the bad guy while excusing your own behavior and involvement, ridiculous.

Posted by Rich Brooks
November 21, 2007 02:13 PM

Seth, you better rethink this one.

There are going to be alot of ticked off people if you blackout a New England Patriots game in Maine. Why is this game not running on a local station?

Believe it or not there are Mainers that hate Time Warner more than you and still use rabbit ears!

Posted by Paul
November 21, 2007 02:25 PM

"Why is this game not running on a local station?"

Because the NFL's contractual commitments prevent it being shown on a local station other than in Boston and New York. So if you can get Boston's channel 5 (WCVB), you can probably get it. If not, you probably can't.

And no, the NFL aren't going to cave and show it locally anyway. It's their biggest leverage against Time Warner.

Posted by Alistair
November 21, 2007 02:45 PM

As a Vermonter, I am also likely going to miss the season ending game of my home team because of the unmitigated greed of the NFL and my cable company, Comcast. Until this September, I had the NFL network (including NFL HD) on our extended package, for which I already pay nearly $150 a month. Then Comcast moved it to a special sports tier and I refuse to pay the extra money for something that I used to get with my current package. Apparently, Vermont is no longer part of New England either.

Way to go Crapcast! And you wonder why everyone hates you. As soon as I have an alternative to your monopoly, you are history.

Posted by
November 21, 2007 03:07 PM

This is unbelievable! It won't make me be less of a fan for the Patriots, but it will not have the desired outcome of having me purchase a special sports package in order to see the game. Corporate greed at its finest. Seth's comments above are self-serving and disrespectful. The powers that be can make a change so that those of us in New England can see the game on a local channel. Any e-mail or calls we make to the huge corporate conglomerates would only fall on deaf ears or into a recycle bin...oh...they probably wouldn't spend the money to recycle.

Posted by JLL
November 21, 2007 04:01 PM

Just drive to york county and turn on Channel 5 (ABC). You dont have to go too far.

Posted by beal
November 22, 2007 08:38 AM

Uhhhhh, Beal, I hate to break it to you, but there is more to Maine than York County. That would be a three hour drive for me from Bangor. (That leads into the perception of "two Maine's", but that is a whole other disaster.) If I'm going to drive 3 hours to watch it on TV, I'll just drive another hour and a half and go into Boston itself.

What is really the only answer is for us to go to a local sports bar to watch the game. Assuming there is enough room for all of us!

Posted by
November 22, 2007 09:48 AM

Time Warner Cable is refusing to reach an agreement with the NFL Network to show give people here in Maine the NFL Network with our Basic cable packages which already cost us $60 or more a month. Instead, they want to make it part of a Premium package that would cost us another $30 a month. I for one am considering Direct TV which gives it as part of their basic plan. I am not affiliated with Direct TV in any way. I'm just a ticked off Time Warner Cable subscriber. If the Patriots go undefeated and Time Warner will not find a way to televise the final regular season game up here that does not cost a lot of money, they deserve to be boycotted and tossed out of the state. At least Comcast has a sports package with the NFL Network for only $7.95 a month but they only go as far as Sanford I think.

Time Warner always sucked, now they suck even more.

Posted by Kevin
November 22, 2007 09:19 PM

If people in Maine aren't able to see the December 29th game, especially if the Patriots go in 15-0, I guarantee you that a whole lot more people will be ticked off at the NFL than at Time Warner. Livid, actually. (And with over half the country unable to see what could be a huge draw, the NFL will be missing out on a ton of advertising revenue, too.)

Posted by
November 22, 2007 09:44 PM

To have it the NFL way, each cable subscriber bill will go up $3. To have it Time Warners way, the bill will not go up, NFL will go to a sports package. I want to watch the Patriots as much as anybody, but I already give them enough for my cable TV, internet, and telephone.

On the other hand, 'they' should make the games available as it had been all along, until the litigation between Comcast and the NFL is done.

Posted by Lucifer
November 23, 2007 09:04 AM

For more on this story, and to leave further comments, check out http://business.mainetoday.com/smallbusiness/internetmarketing/018870.html

Posted by Rich Brooks
November 23, 2007 02:15 PM

I'm just reading up on this travesty. It's a recurring theme since it happened similarly with the Red Sox on TBS for the Division Series. What a joke. For all you folks held hostage by Comcast and don't have a viable alternative, call Comcast and order the premium channel and then cancel it the next day. You should check it out first, but they should pro-rate any fee and if a lot of people did it, it would surely cost them a sizable amount in effort to handle all the calls, subscriptions and cancellantions.

Posted by Steve
November 23, 2007 07:16 PM

This goes along with some patriots merchandise I saw the other day, "New England Patriots" with the state of mass. as the cutout backdrop. There are 5 other friggin states... I'm sure this is real popular.

Posted by nox
December 11, 2007 04:02 PM

cmon Time Warner i will gladly pay $3 for the NFL Network.. i mean $3 cmon guys thats no big deal, just get the deal done.

Posted by
December 13, 2007 11:26 PM

Its M O N E Y it always comes down to money

The NFL and the cable companies couldn't care less about the fans.We are just used as a pawn.The real story is the NFL and cable just can't settle on a price and in the mean-time try to make themselves look like the good guy to the fans.

Posted by Wally
December 24, 2007 07:40 AM

It's hard to side with the NFL on this one. I for one see the NFL as putting itself in a poor position. Let's face it, both the NFL and cable companies are businesses, and businesses are in business to make money. Period. We all wish that were not true, but that is not the point. The NFL is looking for a new revenue stream and the excitement of getting all cable customers to pay for their product whether you like football or not has the NFL blinded. You are pretty slick marketer when you get people to buy something they don't even want.
The cable companies know they have constant pricing issues with their customers so they gave the NFL a chance to establish themselves. You get into the sports tier and prove your value. If customers clamor for the NFL network the NFL gets moved to basic cable service. But the NFL knows they have virtually nothing for anybody after the regular season. The NFL network is for the hardcore fan only until they prove otherwise. The other chance the NFL has missed is getting out of the argument as the bad guy. If cable had the NFL network on the sports tier and DirectTV offers NFL network as a basic subscription, then the cable company now has to win the fight for customers with DirectTV. The NFL can just sit back and watch. But that would be too easy and more importantly, less lucrative today.
As for getting everyone to shell out $3 a month so football fans can get 8 more games? Imagine this: The Home Shopping Network now demands cable companies charge all subscribers $3 per month because someone's Mom wants it 24/7. Not a good idea.

Posted by Mike
December 24, 2007 01:25 PM

Unfortunately, we're probably not going to see the Patriots-Giants game on TV in Maine, except maybe in southern York County, We can bitch all we want and it's not going to do anything but maybe make us feel a little better. And none of us will ever be big enough to change that. Fortunately for me I grew up before television and listened to a lot of radio, so I'll probably do the same on Saturday. I have a friend who doesn't have cable and has listened to every Pats game this year on radio, and thinks it's more exciting than TV. I wouldn't go that far. But it's a helluva lot better than nothing. And I'll be damned if I'll lose any sleep about it.

Posted by
December 25, 2007 11:34 AM

Regarding Steve's suggestion that you order the NFL network and then cancel right after the game: With Time Warner (Oxford County Maine), you can't even do that! I tried, and the NFL network is being so obnoxious that they won't let you pay for it as an add-on Time Warner channel! Everyone should boycott all NFL official clothing, videos, etc.

Posted by Conrad
December 26, 2007 01:55 PM

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