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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.

Tags: espn

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