Tuesday, November 27, 2007

NFL Network v. Cable Companies

As one who will have to head out to a Sports Bar Thursday night to watch the Pokes and the Pack, I've got to chime in. The cable companies seem to be doing a much better sales/propaganda job on this dispute but the broadcasts rights are the property of the NFL Network. The owners have the right to maximize their income from their assets.

It is genuinely funny that the cable companies are taking the Edwardsian position of being on the side of the little guy.

Owners are certainly experimenting here (with an ultimate goal of going to all pay-per-view, all the time) and have lucked out that this is the sexiest game of the year. Sad to say but there are two things that men will pay for if the economic models are correct...sports and porn. (If you've never seen the profit margins on PPV porn for the cable companies, they are astounding. I've also read that only internet gambling has become more profitable than internet porn.)

Having come down firmly on the side of the Network, the more interesting question to me is the experiment itself. The owners have such a lucrative deal with the networks...are they taking this a bridge too far? I don't think so. If this proves a disaster, I believe they can come back and the fans will forgive and forget. I also suspect that it won't prove a disaster. I just don't know if moving from an advertiser model to a PPV model can be justified by the numbers. I don't have access to the numbers the owners must be using but I think they (the numbers) must be less than clear if the owners are having to stick in their collective toe rather than dive in head first.

The last thing we need is for the gummint to get involved. I've even heard arguments on the radio that the NFL is a utility and therefore can be regulated. Having said that, what a coup if some legislator could ride in on a white horse and save the electorate from the evil NFL Network.

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