The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

NFL network benefits league pockets, not fans

By John Garces/sports editor

One of the biggest games in recent Cowboys history will take place tomorrow, but, thanks to a scheduling quirk, few fans across the nation will get to see it.

That’s because tomorrow’s game with the Green Bay Packers is the product of the NFL’s attempt to put actual NFL games on the cable network that bears its name in an attempt to expand its brand.

The problem with this practice is most cable companies don’t bother to carry the NFL network.

As a result, millions of Cowboys fans nationwide won’t have the opportunity to see the game that will likely decide home-field advantage in the NFC come January.

When the schedule was released in the off-season, there was no reason to believe a game between a Cowboys team that appeared to still be a year away from serious title contention and a young, 8-8 Green Bay team that features Brett Favre but little else would become such an important game.

But now that it has, the biggest game of the season in both markets is at the mercy of a TV contract that allows NFL games to be shown on a network most of the general public doesn’t get to see.

The idea of “flex scheduling” was also adopted by the NFL as part of last year’s TV contract, which allows a previously scheduled game to be moved into the coveted Sunday Night time slot, which has replaced Monday Night Football as the most important game of the week.

But since the game is already scheduled as a nationally televised game, it is protected from flex scheduling, so this game is prevented from being shown to a bigger audience than what will see it on the league’s personal cable station.

The league sees the scheduling of individual games on their fledgling cable network as a step toward airing the majority of their games on the network.

The gamble the league took was assuming that airing eight games over the final month of the season would be a lure to cable companies to carry the network, And, of course, it would bring in more revenue to the league.

With many of those companies refusing to bite, though, the league runs the risk of losing its biggest source of income: the fans.

They are left with two real options: either quit trying to use the cable channel as a source of income for the league or work a deal with the cable companies to make sure the league is available in all of the 32 markets that field an NFL team.

Otherwise, more big games such as this one will be missed by fans who made the simple mistake of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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