Wall Street Journal: NFL Net, ESPN in talks to partner
ESPN is in talks with the NFL Network to form a partnership, The Wall Street Journal reported on its Web site Friday, citing unnamed people familiar with the situation.
The paper said NFL Network CEO Steve Bornstein, formerly a high-ranking ESPN executive, has had discussions with ESPN in recent weeks, presumably seeking a creative solution to a maddening problem for the NFL: gaining wider distribution for its network.
The NFL Network has struggled partly because it lacks the leverage of an affiliation with a major media or cable company. Disney, which owns ESPN, would offer that type of power.
The Journal said one possible scenario would have the NFL Network share a channel with what is now ESPN Classic, allowing ESPN to raise the price per subscriber of the channel to cable operators.
The NFL hoped adding a package of live games for the 2006 season would help it gain traction, but so far that has not happened, with major cable companies, including Cablevision, refusing to carry it.