The NFL season is about to start and Time Warner Cable is playing hard to get when it comes to signing a new NFL deal. As the second largest cable carrier in the nation, perhaps the company feels it can hold out for more favourable content fees. National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell has admitted to some frustration as the NFL Network’s carriage battle with Time Warner Cable drags on. He has clarified the NFL’s stance in an industry conference in N.Y. on Thursday, Sept. 6, saying that the league will be patient in its negotiations with Time Warner, because they have confidence in the quality and value of their product.
“We’ve established the market,” Goodell said at the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit. “It’s clear what the market rate is for the NFL Network. We’re a little frustrated by it, but we made it clear to Time Warner Cable that we’ll do a market-rate deal and we’ll be as patient as we need to be.”
Goodell revealed that the NFL has already completed several renewals with competing cable providers for both NFL Network and NFL RedZone.
“If there was a problem with the quality, they wouldn’t be renewing at the rate they are renewing,” he said in a statement. “We see, not only the renewals coming in quickly, we actually see increases off of that.”
Of course, other companies, such as DirecTV, are well known for their extensive NFL programming. Unfortunately, if you live in an area that gets a lot of rain and snow, switching to a satellite TV provider is just not an option. While the NFL truly is a popular and in-demand channel, in some parts of the country, cable really is the only game in town—which is why Time Warner Cable is taking its sweet time agreeing to any deal.
No doubt Time Warner will argue that they only want the best deal so their subscribers don’t have to pay more. They will frame this impasse as a fight to rein in runaway broadcast fees in a bid to save their customers more money. Will Time Warner customers get angry enough to cancel and make a switch if there’s an NFL blackout? Will the NFL blink first, knowing that in some areas, it’s virtually impossible for NFL fans to switch to another provider?
Hopefully a deal is reached soon. I’m pretty sure things will get worked out—if not for the NFL or Time Warner, at least for the consumer’s sake.