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SBD/Issue 43/Sports Media
Many Patriots Fans In New England Will Not See Tonight's Game
Published November 13, 2008
GAP COVERAGE: In Maine, Rachel Lenzi writes under the header, "Pats' Game On Television Is All But Drawing A Blank." Aside from NFL Net, WCVB and WMUR are the only two networks within a 75-mile radius of Boston that will carry tonight's game. TWC services almost 300,000 customers in Maine, so "most cable subscribers" in the state "won't have access" to coverage of the game. Lenzi notes "several bars and restaurants in the Portland area plan to show the game" (PORTLAND PRESS HERALD, 11/13). Also in Maine, Mark LaFlamme writes under the header, "Patriots Off Air For Most TV Fans" (Lewiston SUN JOURNAL, 11/13). In Albany, Mark McGuire wrote the NFL is "skimpy in its designation of hometown markets for NFL teams, ignoring outlying markets that serve as key fan bases." The U.S. is "filled with Albanys -- homes to fans who will often drive two or more hours to a game, but are deemed unworthy of local television exemptions." The NFL and TWC in their carriage dispute are "both wrong, which doesn't help anybody." NFL Net "could be considered a niche channel in, say, March," but "considering how many other niche channels are on the lower end of the dial, and how huge the NFL is on game days, the argument is largely specious" (Albany TIMES UNION, 11/11). MARKETWATCH's Jon Friedman wrote the NFL is "playing a dangerous game," as its "attempt to boost its network is infuriating backers of its most glamorous franchise -- the Patriots." With the lack of carriage for tonight's game, the NFL is "effectively thumbing its nose at an entire region" (MARKETWATCH.com, 11/12).
NFL Net's Bornstein Writes Cable Cos.
"Continue To Turn A Deaf Ear" To Fans
LEARNING CURVE: In DC, Tim Lemke writes MLB Network, which debuts on January 1, will "get off to a much better start than its NFL counterpart." MLB Net already has carriage in more than 50 million HHs, ahead of NFL Net's 43 million HH reach. Lemke writes that NFL Net has received "strong ratings among households" that get coverage, and its "studio shows and coverage of the NFL Draft compare in quality to those at ESPN." It also is "fair to note that the NFL Network's initial distribution ranked among the best in cable history in 2003," but it "just hasn't gained much traction with cable operators since." Over time, NFL Net "may prove the more profitable of the two networks," but "in the early going, it's all about distribution" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 11/13).