If you have Time Warner Cable or Bright House cable and are a NFL fan, you may have to sit down for this. Also try not to break anything.
After weeks of negotiations which were spun as "We're making progress! Almost there!" Time Warner and NFL Network have called off negotiations for the cable operator to carry the channel as well as the NFL RedZone, the quick paced live action channel covering the whole league, which is surging in popularity.
From Ad Week:
"Sources said the Oct. 7 talks between the NFL and the nation’s No. 2 cable operator became so heated that both sides walked out of a Time Warner Cable conference room without scheduling a follow-up meeting.
Just two months ago, TWC subs were given reason to believe that a deal would be worked out before the season began."
The year of drawn out negotiations hit the fan again as the tens of millions of subscribers of Time Warner Cable and their sister cable operator, Bright House, seem to be out of luck in getting the channel before live games start up in November.
While eight games is a big loss for NFL fans considering they all air during exclusive time windows, a bigger sense of loss stems form the fact that fans will be deprived of NFL RedZone which the NFL likes to bundle into the negotiations. The tactic has worked for MLB and the NBA who have tied carriage of their channel to game packages that fans clamor for.
While it seems laughable that the two sides can't come together, there has long been bad blood between the two organizations that traces back to 2006...
"At an annual cable function at the New York Hilton that November, Dressler, who headed the programming group for the country’s second largest operator, huddled with Adam Shaw, NFL Network’s senior vice president of distribution and marketing. Over drinks, the two finalized the framework of a deal that would see Time Warner launch NFL Network on analog in its markets that had NFL teams, like Dallas and Cleveland, and on a digital tier everywhere else.
As the two shook hands to cement the deal, Dressler was not convinced. He told Shaw, “I’ll do this deal, Adam. But your bosses won’t.”
Shaw, who had been trying to cut a Time Warner deal for three years, was more optimistic. He felt this was the best deal he could get from Dressler, who was soon retiring and wanted to wrap up NFL negotiations before he left.
But Dressler proved to be right."
Time has only compounded the problem as the price of the channel, the launch of NFL RedZone, and deals struck with other cable operators has given NFL Network a bit more leverage as the two groups have looked to put past differences aside.
The reality is that NFL RedZone and DirectTV's Red Zone Channel are changing how fans consume the game they love. I'd surmise that outside of those actually in attendance at games, the next most passionate groups of fans are those who every weekend cue up the channel and potentially other games on secondary televisions and strap in for a copious amount of football.
Depriving fans of not only the live games, but the NFL RedZone experience is a very big misstep on both sides especially considering 12 of the NFL's 32 fanbases are in Time Warner territory.
In the end, there is a certainly a deal that makes sense but unfortunately like so many things these days, pride gets in the way and the fans are the ones who pay. Whenever this occurs and the stalemate only worsens, often the only way to get things back on track is to insert new blood into the negotiations. If Time Warner and the NFL are really not close nor interested in meeting again, here is to hoping they'll start fresh as it's clear these two groups just can't do the right thing for the fans.