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Comcast v NFL

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), just ahead of the Houston Texans' shellacking of my poor, lost Denver Broncos last night, threw the book at the NFL over an ad campaign that encourages the MSO's subs to switch to satellite TV.

Comcast claims the campaign marks a breach of contract. The operator has already won the right to put the NFL Network on a sports tier, but the pigskin net is still pushing for distribution on the more widely available digital tier and is applying pressure with some marketing messages targeted at football fans.

While Comcast is seeking damages and a court order to stop the campaign, the NFL countered that the MSO "seems to be a little nervous about our perfectly legitimate efforts to make sure consumers know all of their options for getting the NFL Network."

For Denver-area Broncos fans who don't subscribe to Comcast's sports tier, the spat didn't affect their ability to watch Thursday night's night's game, because local broadcaster, KWGN, won a bid to carry it. Comcast also carried the game down in Colorado Springs, citing the KWGN's agreement with the league. The NFL, however, argued that the deal was good only for the Denver metro area and accused Comcast of "stealing" the signal.

Lawyers for both sides are certainly making adjustments and getting their X's and O's in order for the second half of this battle. But expect the tension to mount further if the New England Patriots can keep their unbeaten streak alive. The NFL Network is slated to carry the week 17 game between the Pats and the New York Giants the night of Saturday, Dec. 29.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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