SBD/February 6, 2012/Media

NFL Network Announces Extended Thursday Night Coverage, Addition Of Spanish Channel

The NFL Friday announced that NFL Network will televise five additional regular-season games in ’12 as part of its “Thursday Night Football” package. The “Thursday Night Football” schedule on NFL Network will now feature 13 games, all on Thursday, from Weeks 2-15, skipping Week 12. NFL Network in previous years included at least one Saturday night game. All 32 NFL teams will now play at least one primetime game in ’12. In addition, every club will play on one Thursday following a Sunday game (NFL). ADWEEK’s Anthony Crupi wrote as has been the case since it began broadcasting "SNF" in ‘06, NBC will “once again air a special Thursday night season opener.” The net also will “assume the rights to the NFL Network’s Thanksgiving night game, which coincides with Week 12” (ADWEEK.com, 2/3). NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke of the NFL Network schedule expansion during his state of the league address and said, “We think that’s great for the teams because everyone will get that primetime exposure and we think it’s great for the network." NFL Network is still not carried on Time Warner Cable and Cablevision, and Goodell said, "We’ll continue to work with them. We’ll continue to try to get an agreement, but the market has spoken. The NFL Network’s here and it’s going to continue to grow” (NFL Network, 2/3). In N.Y., Judy Battista wrote the increase in Thursday games is “likely an attempt by the league to increase the value of the network as it continues to try to negotiate deals with Time Warner Cable and Cablevision” (N.Y. TIMES, 2/4). A TWC spokesperson said that although “no discussions are currently happening with the net, the MSO remains willing to negotiate” (CABLEFAX DAILY, 2/6). The NFL also announced the creation of a Spanish-language RedZone channel. A league spokesperson said the net “has yet to sign up any charter affiliates for the new service, whose English-language counterpart counts 125 TV distributors around the country.” MULTICHANNEL NEWS' Mike Reynolds noted the vast majority of RedZone affiliates, “including Comcast, Dish Network and Verizon FiOS, position it on sports tiers.” It is “unclear if the Spanish-language service would be similarly situated, or become part of Hispanic packages” (MULTICHANNEL.com, 2/3).

THE GOLD STANDARD: The AP’s Howard Fendrich wrote it seems nothing “can get in the way of the NFL, whose ratings and revenues climb and climb, no matter what." NFL games accounted for 23 of the 25 "most-watched telecasts last fall, and a total of 37 games drew at least 20 million viewers each.” Former CBS Sports President and media consultant Neal Pilson said, “Sports is, to a certain extent, recession-proof. You can see a sports event 10 different ways: on television, on your laptop, on your iPad, on your mobile phone, in bars and restaurants, in airports. There’s no other entertainment property that is so ubiquitous.” Octagon First Call Managing Dir David Schwab said, “From September to January, every Sunday, that’s when football comes. That’s a huge advantage. Every Sunday at 1 o’clock, 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock have become what NBC Thursday nights used to be: ’Must See TV’" (AP, 2/4).
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