NFL Network tackles Comcast

Emails urge subscribers to keep channel

In what it calls “an email blast,” the NFL Network is fighting Comcast’s shift of the channel from an entertainment tier reaching more than 6 million customers to a more expensive sports tier with only 250,000 subscribers.

The email, a one-page pamphlet in the form of an advertisement distributed to Comcast customers, is headlined “Why Pay More for Your Football” and urges subscribers to “demand that NFL Network remain in your current cable package” or “demand a rebate for the loss” of the channel, with Comcast’s 800 number mischievously included in the ad.

A ruling in New York Supreme Court last month favorable to Comcast emboldened the cabler to begin bouncing the NFL net from its no-extra-charge digital platform to a sports tier that costs an additional $4.95 a month.

Under the ruling, the NFL Network forfeited its right to continue on the 6 million customer platform by not allowing Comcast (or any other cable operator) to buy the Sunday Ticket out-of-market NFL games and by rejecting a bid by the Comcast-owned Versus network for a package of eight regular-season NFL primetime games post-Thanksgiving. The NFL sold the Sunday Ticket games exclusively to DirecTV, which made a preemptive five-year bid of $3.5 billion. And the league kept the eight primetime contests for its NFL Network.

The NFL net is hoping that its email blitz will cause Comcast customers to cancel their cable subscriptions and subscribe to DirecTV or EchoStar; both satcasters carry the channel on widely circulated tiers. The network’s email attack helpfully publishes the phone numbers of DirecTV and EchoStar.

In some markets, Comcast subscribers have another option: shifting to AT&T and Verizon, which have created a cable-like service and are gradually encroaching on existing cable markets.

Both AT&T and Verizon are enthusiastic carriers of the NFL Network.

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