Suddenlink to Offer NFL Network, NFL RedZone

Suddenlink will offer NFL Network and NFL RedZone as part of the agreement that NFL Network reached with the National Cable Television Cooperative, of which Suddenlink is a member.

Suddenlink has already started to launch these channels in certain areas and expects substantially all of the launches to be completed by or well before the first Sunday of the NFL regular season, Sept. 12.

Suddenlink will notify customers when the channels are available in their community and how to subscribe to them. As NFL Network and NFL RedZone are launched, the company will also update the local channel listings published on its Web site. (Suddenlink customers can view their local lineup at suddenlink.com when they enter a valid street address, city, state, and zip code.)

More information about NFL Network available here. More information about NFL RedZone available here.

Saturday’s Saints-Cowboys Showdown

Because we serve customers in both Louisiana and Texas, we can’t pick sides in Saturday’s NFL game between the Saints and Cowboys, so we’ll simply wish both teams our very best.

That game will be on local broadcast TV in Dallas and New Orleans, so our customers in the Dallas TV market will be able to watch it. (While we have customers in many parts of Louisiana, we don’t have any in the New Orleans TV market.)

For everyone else, the game will be on the NFL Network, which we continue to seek an agreement to add to our channel line up. As indicated last month, the NFL Network made us an offer in late September, which we verbally accepted. After exchanging contract drafts, the NFL Network withdrew the offer we had accepted.

It’s all very frustrating, to say the least. Still, we would very much like to add the NFL Network to our line up and we remain open to continued negotiations with them — focusing on the offer we already accepted, or any of the other, multiple attempts we’ve made to reach an agreement with them.

NFL Network Update

Following negotiations this summer, the NFL Network made Suddenlink an offer in late September. We verbally accepted that offer, started exchanging contract drafts, and were ready to move forward with adding their network to our channel line ups.

Then, the NFL Network withdrew the offer we had accepted.

A few weeks later, the NFL returned with a new proposal that included unacceptable costs and conditions.

To say we are frustrated would be an understatement. However, we remain open to continued discussions and a new offer from the NFL Network, including the offer that we already accepted or any of the other offers we have previously made to them.

NFL Network Update

Since early June, we have been in active discussions with the NFL Network about adding them to our channel line ups. The NFL Network will not start televising its eight regular season games until mid-November. Before then, we hope we can reach an agreement with them on terms that are similar to the terms we understand the NFL Network agreed to with Comcast earlier this year, when the Network was placed on a digital package of channels — or on terms that are consistent with our prior offers to the Network, including our offer to give them their own, stand-alone channel. Either way, we will continue to negotiate in good faith with the NFL Network, seeking a resolution that is fair to both those customers who are interested in the Network and those who are not.

NFL Network News

Given the recent news about a deal between Comcast and the NFL Network — which allows Comcast to carry the NFL Network as part of its digital service — we are following up with NFL executives to discuss what new options might now be available to Suddenlink and its customers.

While we obviously cannot make promises at this point, we remain open to adding the NFL Network to our line up in a manner that is fair to all of our customers — and we will let everyone know if we are able to reach an agreement that allows us to do that.

NFL Network v. Comcast

Suddenlink isn’t the only company that has a difference of opinion with the NFL Network. In today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, Comcast Exec VP David Cohen writes:

… Comcast wants to carry NFL Network, and we have been working hard to come to an agreement to do just that before our current contract with the NFL expires on May 1. In fact, we have offered to continue to carry the network under the terms of our current contract, but the NFL has refused.

You may wonder why. We’re asking the same question.

Cohen adds:

The NFL already makes more than $20 billion through long-term deals with ESPN, CBS, Fox, and NBC – more than the television-rights fees collected by the NBA, NHL, and NASCAR combined.

But the NFL wants more, and it’s trying to use its enormous market power to force millions of our customers to pay for games they have always seen for free.

We encourage anyone interested in this issue to read Cohen’s entire commentary; it’s well worth it.

Another Blow for NFL Network

A Suddenlink competitor limits distribution of the NFL Network — and a court’s refusal to overrule that decision results in the football network losing another four million households.

For our part, Suddenlink remains ready to work with the NFL Network, if the Network will work with us to find a way to make its channel available to those who want it, without charging those who don’t.

NFL Network: ‘Like a Bull in a China Shop’

Chris Van Wagenen, business editor at the Lubbock Avalanche Journal, weighs in on the NFL Network, which he claims:

… has acted like a bull in a China shop. It’s (their) way or the highway. That stinks for fans, but eventually, even in this economy, someone higher up ought to get it.

…The NFL needs to get (with) the program. They’re not ESPN and they never will be.

NFL Network Commentary

Robert Seidman of TV by the Numbers chimes in on the NFL’s experiment with its own network. Money quote:

The NFL probably has too much hubris, even now, to fold up shop with the NFL Network and package the games it kept for itself up back to the TV Networks …

I understand greed and hubris as much as the next guy. Sometimes it pays off. But this isn’t one of those times. The good old fashioned greed of extorting the television networks, who will in turn extort the advertisers, who will gladly be extorted since they cherish the demographics of people who watch NFL games, seems to be the way to go.

Check here for background on Suddenlink and the NFL Network.