The NFL Network settled its fight with Comcast Cable today, giving the channel a huge boost in potential viewers.
Comcast, the nation's largest cable outlet, started the fight in 2006 when it moved the NFL Network off its basic digital tier to the more expensive sports tier. The NFL Network wanted to boost is price from 15 cents per subscriber to 70 cents. Comcast didn't think the 8 live games that the NFL Network would be carrying was worth the increase -- especially since the NFL also insisted that the network stay on the basic digital tier.
Comcast will pay approximately 40 cents per subscriber for the NFL Network. The channel will be on the basic digital classic tier on Comcast, which will mean a potential of an additional 8-9 million viewers. Comcast had about 2.5 million viewers on its digital sports tier.
With Tuesday's settlement, both sides have agreed to drop their lawsuits. And the lower price also makes it more likely that other cable TV service providers, such as Time Warner and Cablevision, will reach deals to carry the NFL Network.
The deal also provides Comcast with the ability to show DirecTV’s Red Zone Channel, a part of the Sunday Ticket satellite package that gives live look-ins to the league’s Sunday afternoon games when teams are inside their opponents’ 20-yard line.
That means that the NFL must also have come to an agrement on an extention with its over-the-air partners through 2013. Both Fox and CBS have indicated that if the NFL was going to be able to drop in on their games, that they wanted a two-year extention on their current contracts with the NFL.