Six weeks into its on-air existence, the NFL Network won its first Emmy in April 2004. Almost five years and four more gold trophies later, though, the channel is struggling with distribution expansion outside its current 40 million homes.
Owners and league executives reference the high-quality production and on-air look as great successes, but many in sports insist the league miscalculated the value of its programming, writes John Ourand of SportsBusiness Journal.
David Cohen, Comcast executive vice president, agrees that part of the NFL Network's failure has been that the eight-game package is not compelling enough for operators because so much other NFL content is already available. He describes the network's offering as 'a small additional increment of out-of-market games.'
'That's the fatal flaw underlying the NFL Network,' Cohen states. 'If they put a whole season on the network, and they priced it at a rational level and they retooled the out-of-market package, then they may have a value creator there.'
The suggestion that NFL Network is nothing more than eight live games is one that makes NFL Network President and CEO Steve Bornstein visibly bristle.
The article details missteps made by the league, but it also reveals the NFL's approach may change with a decision to give up equity in order to get carriage -- not unlike the nascent MLB Network.
Why do you think the NFL Network is struggling? What can the channel do to capture a greater audience from America's most popular sport in its most powerful league? Should the league give up equity in its channel to a broadcaster that could carry more leverage? Should NFL fans be upset with the league for essentially hijacking content?
Why the NFL Network is stuck on the sidelines [SportsBusiness Journal]