NFL Net’s Thurs night Broncos-Texans game wasn’t accessible in MT, as 2 state Sens had hoped, and it obviously didn’t involve Sen John Kerry’s de facto team, the Patriots. But it was available to CO Comcast customers outside of the Denver area, drawing the net’s ire, and capping a busy and heated week in what has become a carriage saga between the league and major cable ops. The game aired on Comcast through KWGN in Colorado Springs, Pueblo and Trinidad, all approx 60 miles from Denver but not officially part of the capital’s DMA. At issue is the constitution of a team’s local market, as NFL Net strikes deals with local broadcasters allowing fans throughout competing teams’ environs access to games. For example, when the Redskins played on the net earlier this month, all Washington, D.C.-area viewers had access to the game, irrespective of their multichannel op. As Comcast’s retrans agreement with KWGN covers both Denver and Colorado Springs, the MSO was “well within” its rights to broadcast the tilt, said a Comcast spokesperson. NFL Net, on the other hand, believes the MSO’s move violated its contract with the net, which calls for sports tier carriage only (along with in-market telecasts). No specific word, however, on how the net will respond. “It’s a legal matter now, not a media matter,” said spokesman Seth Palansky. “It will be dealt with accordingly.” This issue may become critical to the net’s remaining 4 ’07 games, particularly the Dec 29 Patriots-Giants game, which the Pats may enter with a chance to complete an undefeated season. As Sen Kerry has argued, Pats fans aren’t clustered around one northeastern city, but throughout the region. As such, some of the retrans pacts between New England broadcasters and regional cable ops such as Comcast and Time Warner may deliver a workaround similar to what transpired in CO. Meanwhile, Kerry continues to publicly trumpet his concerns—he appeared on ESPN Thurs—while cable ops are using this latest issue to call out NFL Net, which they claim wouldn’t be concerned about widespread game telecasts if their main goal, as stated, is simply to deliver more games to more viewers. The net counters by likening Comcast’s actions to pandering to a fan base that’s obviously more concerned about game blackouts than the MSO will let on. In any event, this pro football season has come to be defined by 4 main issues: Michael Vick, Sean Taylor, the Patriots and NFL Net.

The Daily


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