SBD/November 4, 2013/Media

Happy Birthday To You: NFL Network's Steve Bornstein Celebrates As Channel Turns 10

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NFL Network today celebrates its 10th birthday, and the channel currently is in 72 million homes, making it the biggest league-owned network in the business. (MLB Network is in 70 million homes.) THE DAILY sat down with the channel's President & CEO Steve Bornstein to talk about the channel's launch and his plans after he leaves the league following the Super Bowl.

Q: What was the market like when you launched in 2003?
Bornstein: Sports was quite popular. But I don't think it was as popular as it is today. You saw that the world was becoming an on-demand world. I don't think we really envisioned all these different devices and platforms coming. I thought it was important that the NFL have a communication ability directly to the fans, not filtered through any of our great partners. That was really the genesis of why the NFL Network was launched and supported by ownership.

Q: If you had to do it again, would you have launched with live games?
Bornstein: Games were never a serious consideration when we launched. We did it because people liked our content. For the first few years, we were getting good responses for our non-game programming.

Q: Can all these sports networks exist?
Bornstein: I've been asked that question for 30 years. We launched ESPN in 1980 and they said, "You get all your sports on three networks on Saturday and Sunday. You don't need to do seven-day-a-week sports." I think the sports that have ardent fans following them will do very well.

Q: What's been the biggest change in the business over the past 10 years?
Bornstein: The proliferation of devices and consumption of media on different platforms is amazing. The fact that video consumption is increasing is truly an opportunity for all of us in media to think about how to best serve.

Q: Why did you decide to step down?
Bornstein: The timing was right for me, personally. I've accomplished more than I had anticipated when I came to the NFL. People that work here at the NFL Media Group are ready for more, so I felt it was a good time for them to step up. The NFL is in great shape and it will be in even better shape after I'm done.

Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Bornstein: I hope to be working some place and talking to you. I'm certainly staying in the media business.

Q: When is your last day?
Bornstein: I haven't figured that out yet. I'll talk to Roger. It will be in the spring at some time.
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