NFL sez NFL Network is here to stay
Here is a summary of Thursday night's NFL Network upfront from the venerable John Ourand of Sports Business Journal:
The message coming out of NFL Network's upfront presentation in N.Y. last night could be boiled down to this: NFL Network is not going away. From NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's comments during the event to NFL Net CEO Steve Bornstein's remarks afterwards, top execs said they would continue negotiating with four of the top five cable operators for better distribution.
Noting that the network has deals in place with more than 100 distributors, Bornstein said, "We only have four more to go," referencing Comcast (whom the network is battling in the courts), Time Warner (with whom Bornstein said he has had "no dialogue"), Charter and Cablevision.
(UPDATE: Click below for an updated version of Ourand's story.)NFL is still committed to the NFL Network, judging by comments the league's top brass made during the NFL Network upfront presentation in N.Y. Thursday night. However, the NFL message to the assembled ad buyers was about much more than a single cable channel that saw its distribution drop last year. Rather, the NFL was pitching its "Media Group," of which NFL Network is a part alongside NFL.com, NFL Mobile and NFL On Demand. In fact, it seemed that NFL execs devoted more attention to NFL.com than NFL Network. Still, despite distribution challenges last year, when both EchoStar and Comcast moved it to a tier, NFL execs said they planned to stay the course and would continue to try and negotiate carriage with four of the top five cable operators.The network has deals in place with more than 100 distributors, and NFL Network President & CEO Steve Bornstein said, "We only have four more to go." However, the net is battling Comcast in the courts and with regulators, and Bornstein said he has had "no dialogue" with Time Warner Cable. Charter and Cablevision are the other MSOs he referred to.
INSIDE ACCESS: The league stressed its inside access with a locker-room set that included several members of the Giants in uniform, including DE Michael Strahan. Other players speaking at the presentation included Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck and former Packers QB Brett Favre. Favre said the only way he would return to the Packers would be "as a coach," but later added that he really had no interest in coaching.
NOTES: Bornstein indicated during an impromptu press conference after the presentation NBC recieved a better primetime NFL schedule than ESPN by design. Bornstein: "They got the schedules they negotiated for. We moved the Monday night schedule to Sunday night to accommodate the flex schedule. ... "Monday Night Football" is basically what was on Sunday nights since 1987, and I think it's a very strong schedule this year." Bornstein also said NFL Network still was looking to find an announcer to replace Bryant Gumbel and said NFL Films is talking with several outlets about finding a home for "Inside the NFL," which will not be on HBO this season for the first time in more than 30 years.