Optical/IP Networks

Ready for Some Football?

6:00 PM -- Tonight is one of those sexy, late-season NFL matchups that don't come around very often. Not only are the two teams 10-1, but they're two of the most storied franchises in the league -- the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers. If you're a football fan of any team, there's no way you are not watching this game. Unless, of course, you live in one of the roughly two thirds of all U.S. households that don't get the NFL Network.

That's right, one of the best matchups of the year, and it's not available on most U.S. cable systems. The reason is simple. The NFL wants to charge the cable companies exorbitantly high subscription fees to have the service placed on a basic tier. The cable companies want the channel with seasonal content to be placed as a premium channel. The fight likely won't be resolved until the NFL sells a small stake of the network to the cable operators so that both sides get paid, and the subscriber as always ends up being the one getting fleeced.

So what's a football fan to do? If you have DirecTV, then you're set. If not, do what I plan on doing and head to your local watering hole -- most bars that show a lot of games tend to have DirecTV. You should be drinking on a Thursday night anyway.

Another solution that no one seems to have payed much attention to is Verizon. I'm not talking about FiOS although it is available on there. But most of you can't get FiOS. Most of you in Verizon's footprint can, however, get DSL, and with that, you can now watch the game online. (See Verizon Adds Football Features.) Don't live in Verizon's footprint? That's not a problem either. If a friend or relative does and subscribes to any of its broadband services, you can watch the game using their account from anywhere in the world on any broadband connection (although Verizon would probably prefer you had your own).

So as for the game, if you're lucky enough to watch it, I'm predicting a vintage Favre performance tonight including ill advised heaves into triple coverage resulting in numerous crippling INTs. And a Cowboys blowout. Unfortunately. I'm also predicting the NFL Network play-by-play man, Bryant Gumbel, will continue to be nowhere near as good an announcer as his brother Greg. And Greg isn't too good either.

— Raymond McConville, Reporter, Light Reading

COMMENTS Add Comment
Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 2:57:59 PM
re: Ready for Some Football? There's a theory that the decline in boxing stems from pay-per-view. The big ticket fights aren't available to the general public and can't be found while channel-surfing.

I wonder if other sports are headed down the same path. You've got the NFL here, even though they tried putting the NFL network on basic cable. Much of the baseball playoffs is on cable, including a full round on TBS this year, a network that not everyone gets, IIRC.

Yes, a large part of the sports fan base comes from parents passing fandom to their kids. But I'm sure it also helped that football, and especially baseball, could be found lying around for free on your TV set.

Take that away, and does the fan base shrink?

There's loose parallel here to music sharing and the success of bands like Phish.
Raymond McConville 12/5/2012 | 2:57:58 PM
re: Ready for Some Football? I think part of what makes football so popular here is the rarity of the sport. Teams only play once a week and that makes every game a playoff type atmosphere. Now the league is trying to shove it down our throats. I think this new idea of having games every thursday and saturday night at the end of the season is just going to dilute the interest in the sport. It's too much. People don't like overexpansion. It's what killed the NHL.
OldPOTS 12/5/2012 | 2:57:57 PM
re: Ready for Some Football? gocowboys, even if you cant watch them!

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